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CNet reports that Walmart “is considering launching a subscription streaming video service to go up against Netflix and its e-commerce foe Amazon.” The new offering “could be priced at less than $8 a month,” the story says, which would undercut the prices charged by Walmart’s competitors.

It also is possible that the service could be even cheaper - Walmart is said to also be considering an ad-supported format.

The CNet story provides some necessary context:

“Walmart already has a digital video storefront with Vudu, an online store for buying and renting digital movies and shows, but a subscription service would be a new frontier for Walmart … it's well-trod ground for a slew of powerful companies. In addition to Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, both of which have more than 100 million people with access to their respective subscription video offerings, Walmart would be competing with the likes of Hulu, YouTube, AT&T, Dish and Sony, all of which are trying to lure customers to their on-demand or live video subscriptions. Even Apple and Facebook are pouring money into original video to draw more people into their ecosystems.”

The move is seen as yet more evidence of Walmart adjusting its strategic vision and goals. Over the last few weeks, there has been broad speculation that it plans to sell its Seiyu unit in Japan, a move that would be consistent with its backing off global operations as it focuses more on e-commerce. And, Walmart also has been opening convenience stores in Texas and Arkansas - there are three to this point, with another three scheduled to be opened soon.
KC's View:
Tough business, and this is an interesting announcement considering that Netflix just reported that its most recent quarterly subscription numbers were not up to expectations. To make this work, I think, Walmart is going to have to commit a lot of money not just to content acquisition, but to the production of differentiated, original content. And, I wouldn’t think about an ad-supported service…they already have a name for that. (Broadcast television.)

I’m not sure that Walmart has the kind of orientation and commitment necessary to make this work.