Is Walmart Getting Into the Smart TV Business?

Retailer reportedly interested in acquiring Vizio as its widens its TV offerings and retail media reach
Lynn Petrak, Progressive Grocer
Vizio streaming
Vizio is a smart TV maker that also offers advertising and viewing data, which has reportedly attracted interest from Walmart.

Walmart, already a dominant retailer, is ramping up its competitiveness in the television market and retail media space. According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, Walmart is interested in acquiring TV manufacturer and longtime supplier partner Vizio.

Based in Irvine, Calif., Vizio sells hardware including smart TVs and sound bars and also offers services including advertising and viewer data. Bringing in Vizio under its broad umbrella would boost Walmart’s vertical supply chain for affordable TVs, up its retail media game at Walmart and Sam’s Club stores and leverage Vizio’s WatchFree+ streaming service that is preinstalled on televisions. Walmart does sell TVs under its Onn store brand. 

Walmart continually enhances its efforts in the retail media and streaming space as it competes with other retail behemoths like Amazon. In late 2023, the Sam’s Club division announced that the Sam’s Club Member Access Program is adding full-funnel advertising onsite, in-app and offsite, with advertisers able to layer connected TV ads, sponsored video and interactive videos. Meanwhile, the Walmart Connect retail media program continues to deploy test-and-learn partnerships via the Walmart Connect partner lab, working with Roku, TalkShopLive, TikTok and NBCUniversal. 

Vizio, for its part, is also on the move. Earlier this month, the company announced a major expansion of its WatchFree+ streaming service, now with more than 300 channels, 15,000 on-demand titles and 10 Vizio-curated channels programmed in-house. According to Vizio, viewing hours on the WatchFree+ platform have more than doubled over the past 12 months. 

Neither Walmart nor Vizio has commented yet on a potential deal, said to be valued around $2 billion.

Each week, about 240 million customers and members visit Walmart’s approximately 10,500 stores and numerous e-commerce websites in 19 countries. The Bentonville, Ark.-based company employs approximately 2.1 million associates worldwide. Walmart U.S. is No. 1 on Progressive Grocer’s 2023 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. PG also named Walmart one of its Retailers of the Century.

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