Walmart partners with MGM for original programming on Vudu service

Tim Maytom

Walmart has partnered with MGM in a move designed to supercharge its Vudu streaming video service, adding a wider catalogue of content including original series created by the film studio.

Walmart purchased the video-on-demand service eight years ago, and has so far kept the service relatively separate from its other business concerns. The free, ad-supported platform has a monthly viewership well below dominant platforms like Netflix and Hulu, but the new deal with MGM suggests that the retail giant may have plans to raise Vudu's profile.

Walmart recently hired Mark Greenberg, a veteran of the US cable industry and former CEO of streaming service Epix. Greenberg was reportedly brought on to help Walmart develop a low-cost subscription-based streaming service separate to Vudu, but this new deal suggests Walmart may have rethought that strategy. MGM was one of the founding firms behind Epix, Greenberg's former company, and bought out the entirety of it from co-owners Lionsgate and Paramount shortly before Greenberg left.

Walmart and MGM are expected to make an announcement at the NewFronts conference in Los Angeles on Wednesday and reveal the name of the first production to be made under the partnership, which Walmart will license from MGM.

"Under this partnership, MGM will create exclusive content based on their extensive library of iconic IP (intellectual property), and that content will premiere exclusively on the Vudu platform," said Justin Rushing, a Walmart spokesman in a statement to Reuters.

Vudu currently offers 150,000 titles to buy or rent digitally, with 5,000 movies and TV shows available via its Movies On Us free streaming service.