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Walmart to try TV content creation with MGM partnership

Walmart to try TV content creation with MGM partnership
Daniel Craig reprises his role as James Bond in "Spectre." MGM, whose film and TV library includes the James Bond films, has partnered with Walmart to create original programs that will air on the retailer's Vudu streaming service. (Handout / TNS)

Welcome to Walmart TV.

The world’s biggest retailer has partnered with MGM to create original programs that will air exclusively on Walmart Inc.’s Vudu video-streaming service.

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The shows, based on franchises from MGM’s film and TV catalog, will be free to watch and financed with advertising. An ad-free version will be available for paying viewers. The first show will debut in the first quarter of next year, company spokesman Justin Rushing confirmed Monday.

For Walmart, the move is less ambitious -- and less risky -- than creating its own subscription-based video service, which would pit it directly against Netflix Inc., Amazon.com Inc. and Hulu LLC. Walmart acquired Vudu in 2010 but has done little with it since then, leaving the service on the streaming sidelines while competitors lap up customers, revenue and awards with shows like Netflix’s “Stranger Things” and Amazon’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”

The MGM programs will appear on Vudu’s “Movies on Us” service, which debuted in 2016 and has attracted new viewers in recent months, according to data tracker ComScore Inc. But Vudu still lags far behind rivals: Users spend just 1.9 hours a month on the platform, ComScore found, compared to 25 hours that subscribers spend on Netflix. And there’s more competition coming, as Disney also plans to debut its own streaming service next year.

MGM’s film and TV catalog includes the “21 Jump Street,” James Bond, “Rocky” and Hobbit franchises. Vudu offers viewers 180,000 movies and TV shows, with 7,000 available on Movies On Us. Walmart plans to cut deals with other studios to license exclusive content from them as well.

Variety first reported on the plans Sunday.

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