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Feb 27, 2024

Walmart’s VIZIO acquisition – what does it really mean?

Dayna Lang
Author Dayna Lang

Walmart is diving into the streaming wars head first with its acquisition of VIZIO and its SmartCast Operating System. The real question is, will this acquisition position Walmart alongside the ranks of Amazon Prime, Netflix, Apple TV, and Disney+? And is there more to this acquisition than meets the eye? 

VIZIO is a leading developer of immersive entertainment and technology that is well known for its smart TVs and sound bars. The company also possesses advanced technology which makes data collection and streaming incredibly easy, keeping up with Walmart’s existing efforts to expand its retail media offerings

Is Walmart joining the “streaming wars?”

With VIZIO in its arsenal, Walmart can take the reins and launch itself into the streaming world head first. While tackling streaming giants out of the gate is unlikely, acquiring a smart TV tech leader lets Walmart easily compete with other CTV solutions like Roku, Google’s Chromecast, and Amazon’s Firestick.

And this move couldn’t have come at a more opportune time. Streaming audiences are frustrated by Netflix and Amazon’s latest moves to place ads on previously ad-free content (unless users opt to pay a higher fee). This tension creates room in the market where Walmart can cleverly get in the game while the moment is right. 

Seth Dallaire, executive vice president and Walmart U.S. CRO says, “We believe VIZIO’s customer-centric operating system provides great viewing experiences at attractive price points. We also believe it enables a profitable advertising business that is rapidly scaling.”

This isn’t the first time Walmart has dabbled with streaming. The company previously partnered with Roku to run a series of “shoppable ads”, letting customers make purchases directly from their smart TVs. 

With this latest acquisition, Walmart wouldn’t have to rely on partnerships to do the same. Instead, it would own all the tools necessary through its acquisition of VIZIO. 

Walmart also has Walmart Connect, a closed-loop omnichannel media business. This service grew 30% in 2024 – its first fiscal year in business. This acquisition clearly signals Walmart’s intent to grow its media presence going forward. 

Data collection in a post-cookie world – with VIZIO’s help

VIZIO also provides Walmart with a wealth of data. The company has seen significant growth as of late; its SmartCast operating system has over 18 million active accounts and has grown 400% since 2018. Vizio Platform Plus (their digital advertising program) comes with over 500 direct advertiser partnerships. 

It’s not surprising that Walmart is looking to acquire more connections, since the company still doesn’t accept Apple Pay or Google Pay in its US stores. Instead, Walmart favors its internal solution – giving it better access to more customer data. This begs the question – is streaming data going to be the next “cookie war”? 

This data is going to be essential for Walmart. Google is showing third-party cookies the door; organizations need to fill the gap and Walmart is finding innovative ways to gather customer information. 

By owning the means of streaming, Walmart will know the content its customers watch, when they watch it, and the purchases they’ve previously made. This information collectively provides a well-rounded customer profile that can be used to effectively run targeted ad campaigns. 

As exciting as this acquisition is, it isn’t a done deal yet. Walmart’s proposed VIZIO acquisition will be subject to clearance (as per US Federal Acquisition Regulation) and could be halted should VIZIO receive a “superior offer” within 45 days. 

Barring such an offer, Walmart will have these tools at its disposal in just over a month. By collecting the data it needs to get ahead of the competition (and keeping in mind the sunsetting of third-party cookies) the retail giant can skyrocket into the streaming wars.


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