Borrowing a popular tactic from another sector — telecom — Walmart is reportedly in talks to bundle streaming subscriptions into Walmart+ memberships to level the field with archrival Amazon, whose Prime Video service is a key draw for the eCommerce leader.
Despite ‘the great unsubscribe’ and more time spent outdoors, streaming video subscriptions continue to be potent value-adds for the likes of T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless as they have been for years, and Walmart needs that kind of juice to better compete with Amazon.
On Tuesday (Aug. 9) The New York Times reported that “In recent weeks, executives from Paramount, Disney and Comcast have spoken with Walmart … as the retailer ponders which movies and TV shows would add the most value to its membership bundle, called Walmart+. The people spoke on the condition of anonymity because the discussions were private.”
What’s in it for Walmart? A lure to beef up membership in its Walmart+ program, which has an estimated 51 million subscribers in the U.S. Compare that to Amazon Prime’s 171 million — many of whom want TV, not free shipping — and the logic gets clear quick.
For streaming services, the attraction is Walmart’s scale and long history as an entertainment retailer adding up to more subscribers, especially for struggling streaming channels including Comcast’s Peacock and Paramount+. The Disney+, ESPN+ and Hulu trio are also reportedly being considered in the talks.
In the PYMNTS report “Walmart+ Weekend: Prime Day Rival Or Trip To The Grocery Store” based on surveys of Walmart and Amazon subscribers, we found that Walmart+ members are drawn to discounts on essentials like groceries and gasoline.
“A much larger share of Walmart+ members cite same day grocery delivery as a key reason for joining the program compared to Prime,” the study noted, “whose members predominantly care about free shipping and Prime Video access.”
Additionally, we found that “Prime’s base is more deeply entrenched. The average Prime user has been a member for nearly four years, compared to under two years for Walmart+ users. Walmart+ subscribers are also much more likely to be on free trials than Prime members, at 14% and 5%, respectively.”
Price wise, Amazon Prime at $14.99 per month or $139 per year or compared to $98 annually or $12.95 monthly for Walmart+ is an easy decision for millions as the Amazon Prime membership includes Prime Video, helping explain why Prime has three times the members and why Walmart would be pursuing streaming video as a member benefit.
Walmart+ currently offers six months of the Spotify Premium music service and a standalone Prime Video subscription at $8.99 per month. Walmart dipped its toe in the streaming game in 2010, acquiring streaming service Vudu, which it sold to NBCUniversal’s Fandango division in 2020, although Deadline reported the Vudu app was downloaded to 100 million devices.
In 2018 Walmart made a $250 million investment in interactive entertainment platform Eko creating a new venture called W*E Interactive to create digital content and interactive product pages. Cookshop by Walmart is debatably the most visible product of that agreement, described as a “shoppable video series” featuring inspiring cooking ideas and merch to match.
Most recently, Walmart partnered with Roku to be “the exclusive retailer to enable streamers to purchase featured products fulfilled by Walmart directly on Roku,” per a June press release.
“This unique partnership evolves shopping beyond the QR code and will change the way customers interact and shop TV and video content. The new experience offers product discovery with a seamless checkout experience, enabling purchase directly at the time of inspiration,” the companies said.