Walmart has reached a deal to offer Paramount Global’s streaming service as a perk of its Walmart+ membership program, the companies confirmed on Monday. Starting in September, customers who belong to the retailer’s program will get free access to an ad-supported plan on Paramount+, which includes movies and shows such as “Star Trek,” “Paw Patrol,” “The Godfather” and “SpongeBob Squarepants.” Walmart launched Walmart+ nearly two years ago to drive sales and deeper customer engagement. The program costs $98 per year, or $12.95 per month, and is the company’s answer to Amazon Prime, but with a different set of perks. It includes free shipping of online purchases, free grocery deliveries for orders of at least $35, and discounts on prescriptions and gas.
Total Retail’s Take: This move is intended to improve Walmart’s chances of acquiring and retaining coveted paid loyalty members, a strategy its chief rival, Amazon.com, has used to strengthen its position as the e-commerce leader. While Walmart+ customers are paying an annual fee of nearly $100 to shop with the retailer, that’s significantly cheaper than a year membership to Amazon Prime ($139). Furthermore, that membership fee is augmented by increased spending by paid loyalty members compared to nonmembers.
“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,” Chris Cracchiolo, general manager of Walmart+, said in a news release, perhaps a not-so-subtle nod to the affordability of Walmart+ compared to Amazon Prime. The bottom line, however, is that for consumers to pay for a premium loyalty program such as Walmart+, they must believe they’re getting value from it. Amazon has proven that its Prime members are getting, or at least believe they’re getting, value; Walmart is out to do the same.