Bringing Out the Big Guns — Walmart to Unveil a New Online Streaming Platform

Going head to head with online streaming giants, Walmart is all geared up to launch a new video streaming platform. Blazing new trails with this decision, the retail giant is strategising to surpass Netflix and Amazon Prime Video with cheaper subscriptions. Walmart intends to woo viewers with low-priced plans and an ad-supported free tier. It is planning to counter Netflix’s cheapest plan of $8 a month and Amazon Prime Video’s plan of $8.99 a month, with plans at under 8$ a month. No doubt the company has extensive funds to invest, but it would be an onerous task to draw the viewers from already thriving platforms. There is no financial dearth for the company, but it all goes down to the manner in which they invest. Walmart is headed towards a tough battle, given the retail giant’s not-so successful tryst with online streaming services.

Vudu: on the brink of stagnation

Walmart already possesses a video streaming platform, Vudu. Foraying into the online streaming business, Walmart acquired the video streaming service in March 2010. Founded by Tony Miranz and Alain Rossmann, Vudu is an American content delivery and media technology company. Headquartered in Sunnyvale, California, the content streaming service distributes full-length movies over the internet. Launched in 2007, Vudu promised to revolutionize the ‘home-movie experience.’ Having had launched in the very initial days of online streaming business, Vudu hardly faced hard-core competition. Netflix was in its nascent stages and was available only in the U.S and Canada. Amazon was still figuring out its plan on offering free videos to its Prime members. Apple had just unveiled its very first iPad. With a massive library of 5,000 films from all the major studios, the future prospects of Vudu seemed very bright. Unfortunately, Vudu failed to garner enough subscriptions.

Whilst its competitors flourished, Vudu grew dormant over the years. Vudu is pre-loaded in or can be downloaded to hundreds of millions of electronic devices. It can be easily downloaded to umpteen number of gadgets, including smart TVs, Blu-ray devices and video-game consoles. Vudu enjoyed this prioritized status, owing to the massive clout of Walmart with electronic giants, Sony and Samsung. Inspite of the enormous advantage, Vudu languished. Data tracker comScore reported that subscribers spent a mere 1.9 hours a month on Vudu, a staggering low compared to the 25 hours a month by Netflix subscribers.

The 2010 deal was struck in order to insure the company against declining in-store sales of DVDs. But Walmart has failed to capitalize on its investment in the past eight years. Vudu’s viewership rates have hit a low. The monthly viewership rates lag far behind the market leaders. Walmart has been pushed to the side-lines by the big players, Netflix and Hulu. Netflix’s subscription based approach, featuring exclusive content has changed the market scene. Amazon has been shelving billions on its own programming. Its cutting-edge content has hit a chord with the viewers. Disney, which is planning to debut in 2019 can be a tough competitor as well.

Walmart’s decision to plunge into the over-crowded space of online streaming services can go either way. The business of online streaming services is of a burgeoning one. Nearly one million new households subscribe to streaming video services every month in the US. It’s a money spinner, given the predicted market growth of $84 billion, by 2022 in the U.S. Cheaper plans might draw in crowds who are yet to choose. The big shots better pull up their socks; there is huge competition headed their way.

Picture Credits: Fossbytes

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