Walmart to Start a Streaming Service?

Streaming Service, Technology, Walmart

Save money, stream better? According to new reports, Wal-Mart Inc. may be planning to create their own streaming service in order to compete with industry leaders like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video.

This comes from the tech news site The Information, via Variety. The idea is apparently to create their own platform with a price tag of only $8 per month, and/or one that is free to watch and sustained by money from advertisers.

This is cheaper than any of the major streaming services currently in operation: Amazon Prime Video is $9 for a video-only subscription, Hulu is $8 for a subscription that includes ads, while Netflix is $8 per month for standard definition on a single screen. If Walmart can match that price while offering HD or 4K resolution, it can beat Netflix’s price of $11 per month and potentially become a competitor.

This seems to be the retail giant’s goal: as with their stores, they want to offer a more affordable option for middle America. In contrast, Netflix and Hulu are generally more popular on the coasts, where people are usually more able to afford to splurge a little. So, while those two services are obviously growing in popularity among all demographics, a cheaper alternative could make Walmart a legitimate rival.

It might seem strange to imagine Walmart getting into the streaming business, but it actually already has some skin in the game: since 2010 it has been the owner of Vudu. While one of the relatively smaller content providers, it has a library of more than 18,000 movies and 5,000 TV series, and has more HD options than any other streaming service, at 13,000.

Currently unknown is whether or not a hypothetical Walmart platform would have original programming. It would make sense to avoid that, if they want to keep costs down, but shows like Stranger Things and Orange is the New Black form a major aspect of Netflix’s popularity.

And Netflix in particular is quite popular; polls show that most people prefer it to other streaming services, and traditional television has quickly fallen behind. Aside from Walmart, companies like DC Comics and Disney are also planning to make their own special platforms. Obviously, the Netflix model has become a game changer in the entertainment industry, and it remains to be seen how many companies will try and copy it.

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