Walmart 'Really Late' to the Streaming Game

July 18, 2018

By Michael Teich

Walmart's reported plans to launch a streaming video service may prove futile, said The Information reporter Jessica Toonkel. After all, the retailer, she told Cheddar on Wednesday, is late to the game.

"Netflix and Amazon have been doing this for a while," Toonkel said. "This is a really hard business to get into."

Toonkel broke news this week that Walmart may develop a subscription-based video service to compete with Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. The retailer is considering a price point below $8 per month and may also include an ad-supported free service.

What's the likelihood that Walmart will actually enter the streaming business? That depends on its willingness to spend billions of dollars, Toonkel explained. But after generating $17 billion in cash last year, the company potentially has enough ammo to match Netflix's aggressive spending budget, pegged at $8 billion for 2018.

But it's not just a matter of cash flow, Toonkel said. "They have a lot of money, clearly, but they also have investors that might not be as patient as investors in Netflix."

Walmart's last attempt to enter video content faltered ー in 2010 the retailer acquired Vudu, a video-on-demand service that currently offers a combined 100,000 movie titles and television series. But analytics firm comScore reported that users spent only 18,000 hours on the platform in May, just 2 percent of the total hours spent on Netflix and 6 percent of hours spent watching Amazon in the same period.

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