Walmart, TV Producer?

It already sells stuff like Amazon—now the big retailer wants to produce media programming like its archrival, too.

Every day Walmart and Amazon fight over who is the better retailer. Soon, they’ll be duking it out over who is the better tv and movie producer. Sort of.

This week the company announced a partnership with movie studio MGM to create original movies, televisions shows and other content that will air exclusively on Walmart’s Vudu streaming video service. But unlike Amazon or Netflix, Walmart isn’t particularly concerned about winning Oscars or developing hundreds of original programs. Walmart wants to use the content and the streaming service to learn more about its customers’ needs. isn’t pouring huge amounts of money into developing content. “The more information Walmart can get on its customers, the more it can build out its ecommerce platform,” says Tom Wrobleski, senior client partner and global account lead with Korn Ferry’s consumer practice.

For retailers, offering the widest array of products at the best value in the most convenient way possible is all about digital. Experts say original content can help Walmart collect data on what customers are watching to inform its product offerings, enhance its marketing capabilities and serve up more-targeted ads. In fact, in conjunction with the MGM announcement, Walmart said it plans to roll out “shoppable” video ads on Vudu that will allow people watching movies to request more information or add products to their cart on

Over the last two years, Walmart has been aggressively building out its digital capabilities and expanding its product lines. The moves include buying India ecommerce company Flipkart and acquiring In addition, Walmart has been buying up specialty digital fashion brands like women’s plus-size apparel maker ELOQUII, Moosejaw, ShoeBuy, and ModCloth. Wrobleski says the deals all have the same underlying rationale: making sure Walmart’s product portfolio is diversified across retail channels.

Walmart hasn’t done much with Vudu since acquiring it in 2010. Its decision to start building out the platform with original content now dovetails with a massive shift in both viewing and advertising away from traditional TV to streaming video-on-demand platforms. Korn Ferry Senior Client Partner Craig Rowley says the service can increase customer demand by keeping them within the Walmart ecosystem. “People may not go into a Walmart every day, but they watch TV everyday,” Rowley says.

The MGM deal is a way for Walmart to test the waters without a huge capital investment. “It gives them an opportunity to experiment and learn how content drives customer interaction,” says Rowley. If it does that in a big way, Rowley says more content partnerships could be on the horizon.