Media & Entertainment

Walmart’s JV partner Eko teams up with Refinery29 on interactive videos

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Last fall, Walmart announced a joint venture with Eko to create interactive storytelling — think Netflix’s “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch” — for both entertainment and retail. Since then, Eko has been working with BuzzFeed on a range of interactive videos, as well as on projects for Walmart’s Vudu and others for its own HelloEko.com video site. Today, Eko’s latest partner has been unveiled: millennial-focused digital media company, Refinery29.

According to Variety, which first reported the news, Eko will produce several series based on Refinery29’s content, starting with an interactive scripted project for the site’s “Money Diaries” personal finance column, podcast and book. The online series saw 7 million uniques in 2018 and is one of Refinery29’s top properties, the report noted.

In the Eko videos, viewers will be able to make choices about how to manage and spend the character’s money. Other Eko-produced Refinery29 shows will include the unscripted travel series “60 Second Cities” and another focused on women’s living spaces, “Sweet Digs.”

The shows will debut on Refinery29’s website by year-end, and will be promoted across social media. Eko and Refinery29 will share in the advertising and sponsorship revenue the series generates.

Because Eko’s videos allow viewers to make choices, media companies can learn from what viewers click on to better tailor their content to the viewer’s interests. Videos can also become more personalized to the viewer’s individual needs — in BuzzFeed’s case, for example, a recipe video could show how to customize the dish for dietary restrictions. This same set of advantages will be translated to Refinery29’s properties, as well.

Walmart invested $250 million into its joint venture with Eko last fall, with the aim of developing all sorts of interactive content, from toy catalogs to cooking shows, Reuters noted at the time.

In addition to the BuzzFeed and Refinery29 series, Eko is working with Hollywood producers on its other projects, including the Duplass BrothersFine BrothersNora Kirkpatrick and others, and plans to delve into fashion, beauty and other scripted content in the future.

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