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As Walmart looks to compete with the Amazon and Netflix in the streaming video market, Verge reports that it is planning “ to bring at least six new original programs to its Vudu platform in the next year … the lineup will be comprised of family-friendly content, including a reboot of the 1983 film Mr. Mom that’s set for a June 2019 debut. It’s also reportedly chasing deals for a science fiction show and a procedural crime drama like CSI.”

But what makes this development potentially interesting, and different from what is being offered by its competitors - for better or worse - is that Walmart plans to make the video content “shoppable.”

What does that mean? According to the story, “New advertising technology may be coming to Vudu that will enable viewers to purchase products as seen in TV shows and movies. Without knowing exactly how it will be implemented, it seems similar to Amazon’s X-Ray technology that displays IMBd information on a per-scene basis — except instead of a list of actors in each scene, you’ll theoretically see stuff like toilet paper or a 12-pack of soda. With this model, Walmart could make its money back from viewers who buy products and have them delivered to their homes or pick them up in store. Advertisers may also sponsor this content, so brace yourself for the awkwardly forward placement of branded products.”

Engadget reports that “Walmart has been pitching ad agencies on its plans over the last several weeks, while suppliers have committed to tens of millions of dollars in ad sales.”
KC's View:
I have no particular problem with the idea that if I see an item onscreen while watching a TV show or movie, it’d be nice if on occasion I could get information about where or how to buy it. I’d like it to be non-intrusive … I wouldn’t be inclined to stop what I’m watching to make a purchase, but would rather be able to go back somehow through a kind of index. But I’m probably an outlier on this … I’m hardly the target audience for this service.

I do find it a little perplexing that they want to offer this functionality and sell commercial time. Really? Both? Seems a little much to me … but again, I’m not the target.

It is worth noting that the story suggests that Walmart wants to do this so it can lay off as many of its content costs onto outside companies via this functionality … which is very different from Amazon, which sees its content investments as part of a larger ecosystem play. I’m not saying which one is right, or that both cannot survive. But I prefer the Amazon approach … it is somehow less overtly commercial to me, though the commercial aspects of connecting millions of people to its ecosystem clearly is powerful.