Walmart is the Latest Brand to Embrace the TV Revolution
Walmart is the latest brand from outside the traditional entertainment business to enter the TV arms race, following in the footsteps of Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Telefonica. Brands in every industry consider TV and TV-like media experiences – particularly original scripted series – as the key way to engage millennial and Gen Z audiences who can't be reached via traditional marketing channels.
Close to 500 scripted series aired in 2017 (a number that's more than doubled since 2010), across a diverse range of channels, from traditional broadcast television to streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon. Scripted programming on average captures 35% of TV consumption for millennials globally, and TV viewing in Europe "remains at a historically high level", revealed Frédéric Vaulpré, vice-president of French research firm Eurodata, at this year's MIPTV festival.
Now Walmart may be joining the competition for consumer attention. Anonymous sources have suggested to US tech blog The Information that the US retailer is considering a streaming platform aimed at middle America. Walmart believes there's an opportunity to offer a cheaper service to this audience, considered underserved by the dominant streaming platforms, Netflix and Amazon.
Walmart may be influenced by the way Spanish telecommunications giant Telefonica has diversified beyond its core business and into original TV programming. Via its PayTV company Movistar+, Telefonica is investing €70m ($81m) a year in 10-12 shows, particularly high-end drama series, in a bid to attract more customers. "We want to offer our clients something unique and distinctive," commented Movistar+'s head of content, Domingo Corral, in an interview with UK marketing blog The Drum. "One way is original programming – it is a very powerful tool."
For more on the changing world of TV, see our The Future of Television report.