Walmart partners with MGM on original programming for Vudu

Walmart is teaming up with MGM and others on original content for a free, ad-supported streaming service operated by Vudu. According to reports from Variety, Reuters, and CNBC, Walmart-owned Vudu will license original series created by MGM for this service, which will be based on franchises from MGM’s film and TV catalog. The shows will be family friendly in nature, and exclusive to Vudu.

The news follows rumors that Walmart was working on its own subscription video-on-demand Netflix competitor, but Vudu says there’s nothing planned on that front for the time being. However, it’s not being ruled out for the future, the company noted.

Instead, the focus for now will be on short-form originals that will debut on Vudu’s “Movies On Us” service. Launched two years ago in October 2016, “Movies On Us” was Walmart’s first foray into ad-supported free streaming. The service today includes 7,000 movies and TV shows that consumers can watch for free, interrupted by the occasional ad break. It complements Vudu’s rental and purchase library of 180,000 films.

The new original series from MGM will arrive in the first quarter of 2019, and were described as “family-friendly, advertiser-friendly content.” The size of Walmart’s investment was unknown, but Vudu did tell Variety that it’s not intending to be a studio or create hundreds of new series. In other words, Walmart is not trying to take on Netflix here, nor is it spending billions of dollars on this effort.

MGM and Vudu also didn’t disclose what sort of series are being developed, but MGM’s film and TV library offers a lot of options, as Variety noted. It includes movies like James Bond, Rocky, RoboCop, Pink Panther, 21 Jump Street and The Hobbit franchises, for example.

Vudu plans to license more shows from others beyond MGM, but didn’t disclose details about those plans at this time.

10/8/18, 11:30 AM ET: Updated with more current totals of films/shows on Vudu.