Walmart is partnering with Paramount Global to offer its streaming service, Paramount+, to members of Walmart’s own free shipping program and Amazon Prime rival, Walmart+. The deal was first confirmed by The Wall Street Journal on Monday afternoon, following recent news of the retailer’s discussions with major media companies about such an arrangement.
Walmart has now officially announced the news of its agreement but did not say when access to the steaming service would roll out to Walmart+ members. (Update: Walmart disclosed on its earnings call after this news was released that the subscription will roll out in September.)
However, the retailer said the deal will see Walmart+ members gaining access to Paramount+ Essential Plan subscription — an added $59 value — while its own membership pricing would stay the same. (Typically, the Essential Plan is $4.99/month.)
Introduced in September 2020, the $98 per year Walmart+ subscription includes a variety of benefits, including free same-day delivery, fuel discounts, free shipping from Walmart.com, in-home delivery, contact-free checkout with scan & go and early access to deals. Walmart also has a partnership with Spotify to offer members six months of Spotify Premium for free.
In addition to the annual fee, consumers can opt to pay for Walmart+ at a rate of $12.95 per month for the same perks.
Last week, The New York Times reported Walmart had been in discussions with several major media companies about a possible bundle deal with Walmart+. According to The NYT, Walmart had spoken to Paramount, Disney and Comcast about bundling its shipping membership program with either Paramount+, Disney+/ESPN+/Hulu or Peacock, respectively.
The new partnership with Paramount not only provides Walmart with a more competitive offering to rival Amazon Prime — which includes the streaming service Prime Video — it could also help boost lagging Walmart+ subscriptions.
An August 2022 report by Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP) found that Walmart+ membership subscriptions had plateaued and were now on a slight decline on a quarter-over-quarter basis. It said that as of this July, 11 million customers in the U.S. were Walmart+ members, the same as in the April 2022 quarter and up from 9 million customers in the July 2021 quarter. But the report indicated the membership program had yet to grow in 2022.
“For the last three quarters, membership has remained constant at 11 to 11.5 million customers,” noted CIRP co-founder Josh Lowitz. Before this, he added, “Walmart+ membership had increased steadily since Walmart introduced the program in September 2020, with COVID-19 pandemic shoppers signing up.”
Walmart has not officially disclosed how many of its customers are now Walmart+ subscribers. CIRP, however, estimated that Walmart+ penetration was at 25% for the July 22 quarter, meaning 25% of Walmart.com customers reported being a Walmart+ member. This was up from 17% of Walmart.com customers in the July 2021 quarter, the analysts said. (The firm’s forecasts are based on surveys, in this case some 500 U.S. consumers who made purchases during the May-June 2022 period.)
A different study by Morgan Stanley, referenced by the Journal, estimated Walmart+ had grown to around 16 million members.
For Paramount+, an agreement to distribute through Walmart+ would provide its own competitive advantage amid an increasingly crowded streaming landscape where it has to go head-to-head with top services like Netflix, Disney+, HBO Max, Apple TV+ and Peacock. Earlier this month, Paramount said the Paramount+ service had grown to 43 million subscribers and had a longer-term goal of reaching 100 million subscribers by 2024.
The service streams a number of popular shows, including original programs like “1883” and “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds,” the preschool franchise “PAW Patrol,” movies like “Sonic the Hedgehog 2,” live sports and more.
Walmart was not able to immediately comment on The WSJ’s reporting but we understand it to be accurate. We’ll update when we have more.
Update 8/15/22, 4:18 PM ET: Walmart has officially confirmed the news.
“We know Walmart+ is providing members real value in their every day — from grocery shopping to filling up their tank and more,” said Chris Cracchiolo, senior vice president and general manager of Walmart+, in a statement. “With the addition of Paramount+, we are demonstrating our unique ability to help members save even more and live better by delivering entertainment for less, too. Eighty-five percent of U.S. households use streaming services and Paramount+ has the premium content and broad appeal that our members are looking for — like Walmart, they have something for everyone. We’re excited about the launch and what comes next for Walmart+,” he said.
This is not the first time Walmart has entered into the streaming market. The company acquired the on-demand video service Vudu in 2010 but sold it to Comcast’s Fandango in 2020. It also invested in interactive video company Eko and partnered with Roku in June to bring shoppable ads to the streaming media platform.