Walmart to offer Paramount Plus to Walmart Plus customers

A Walmart store.
(Photo by Mike Mozart via Flickr Creative Commons)

Retail giant Walmart will soon offer free access to Paramount Plus to members of its $13-a-month Walmart Plus subscription service.

The announcement was made by both companies on Monday, with the retailer saying Walmart Plus customers will be able to add the ad-supported version of Paramount Plus as part of their membership.

The move is intended to help Walmart Plus better compete against similar subscription services like Amazon Prime. Both companies offer free, two-day shipping on thousands of items, but Amazon has for years offered other digital perks, including unlimited photo storage, music streaming and its robust Prime Video platform.

The tie-up between Walmart and Paramount Plus could help the streaming service more than it helps the retailer: Paramount Plus, which is a relaunched version of CBS All Access, counts 49 million subscribers around the world, with many located in the United States. But that pales in comparison to Hulu, Disney Plus, Amazon Prime and Netflix, each of which have far more paying customers and nearly all of which offer more content.

In recent years, consumers have ditched traditional cable and satellite services for cheaper, online-only offerings. Paramount Plus offers live access to a viewer’s CBS station or affiliate, but only if they pluck down $10 a month for the ad-free version of the service, and it isn’t clear if Walmart Plus will offer users the option to upgrade their package through their membership. The CBS feed is unlocked for ad-supported customers when Sunday afternoon National Football League games are aired, but it’s hard to imagine customers will pluck down the cash for Walmart Plus when they can simply subscribe to Paramount Plus directly for less (especially if they also want access to Thursday Night Football games, which will be televised exclusively through Amazon Prime later this year).

It is unclear how many customers Walmart Plus has, with research firms putting the number somewhere between 11.5 million and 32 million. Perks like discounted gas purchases aren’t available to all Walmart Plus customers, since they require access to a Walmart store with gas pumps (few have these) or a nearby Exxon or Mobil station. Grocery delivery through Walmart Plus is also not offered at every store, though the number of retail locations with grocery delivery is expanding.

It is also unclear why Walmart chose Paramount as its streaming partner, though the Wall Street Journal said on Monday the two companies have a long-standing retail alliance. But Walmart also has agreements in place with companies like Comcast, which operates the Peacock streaming service (earlier this year, Walmart began selling smart TV sets with Comcast’s X1 streaming platform built in; Peacock often takes center stage on X1-powered devices), and with Disney. Earlier reports suggested Walmart had approached those two companies as part of a streaming partnership, too.

Financial terms of the partnership were not disclosed, but the Wall Street Journal said Walmart will offer Paramount Plus for at least two years, starting next month, with a one-year window of exclusivity. How exclusive that deal is not certain — the same tier of Paramount Plus is also offered to some T-Mobile customers, though only for one year.

Thanks for reading and supporting The Desk. If you have a question, comment or news tip, send a message by email or text, or connect on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.