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Vizio to replace Amazon Prime button after pressure from Walmart

The Amazon Prime Video shortcut button is pictured on a Vizio smart TV remote. (Photo: Andrew Okwuosah / Special to The Desk)

Television manufacturer Vizio has agreed to remove the Amazon Prime Video button on its remote controls following pressure from retail giant Walmart, according to a report.

On Thursday, Silicon Valley trade publication The Information said Walmart made a request to the California-based TV manufacturer to replace the Amazon Prime Video shortcut button on remote controls.

First pioneered by streaming TV hardware manufacturer Roku, shortcut buttons have become an increasingly common feature on remote controls as smart TVs and related accessories become more prevalent in American households.

The feature is promoted as an easy way for viewers to quickly access popular services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and YouTube. But it also serves as a revenue stream for manufacturers: Services are known to pay for placement on remote controls, though the Information said those terms differ between manufacturer and services.

Vizio is one of many streaming TV hardware manufacturers to use shortcut buttons on its remotes. Its basic remote features six shortcut buttons prominently placed at the top for Netflix, Vudu, Crackle, Xumo, iHeart Radio and Amazon Prime Video, according to images reviewed by The Desk.

Vizio TVs are sold at a variety of brick-and-mortar retailers, including Walmart where the budget brand is a popular seller. It wasn’t clear when Walmart asked Vizio to remove the Amazon Prime Video button from its remote controls, nor was it clear if Walmart threatened to remove Vizio TVs from its inventory if the company didn’t acquiesce.

On Thursday, The Information’s Jessical Toonkel reported Vizio agreed to Walmart’s request and would soon replace Amazon Prime Video’s shortcut button with another for a different streaming service in the coming months. Toonkel’s story didn’t say if the button would be removed for all Vizio TV sets or just those sold at Walmart’s stores.

The news comes after a Bloomberg report said Walmart was planning to introduce a membership service to compete with the wildly-popular Amazon Prime, which could include access to a streaming TV platform. Amazon Prime customers receive access to Amazon Prime Video as part of their membership, and it’s thought Walmart’s competing service would work in the same or a similar way.

The Amazom Prime Video app is still expected to be available natively to Vizio smart TV users.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).