Walmart Bows $98 Subscription Program — Without Free Access to Movies, TV Shows and Music

Walmart Sept. 1 unveiled a much-hyped “Walmart+” $98 annual subscription program aimed at competing with the Amazon Prime membership. While the $12.95 monthly program, which goes into effect Sept. 15,  is $21 cheaper than Prime (over a year), Walmart’s platform lacks key Prime features such as streaming video, music and digital books, among other perks.

Walmart said the aforementioned features found on Prime could be added over time. Some observers had felt Walmart would bundle to the subscription service. Instead, the world’s largest retailer sold the platform to NBCUniversal’s Fandango.

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What Walmart+ does offer is free same-day shipping on myriad store items (over $35) that can be shipped from more than 4,700 stores nationwide; a 5 cents per gallon gasoline discount; and the ability to scan items on the Walmart app and pay without waiting in line.

Calling it the “ultimate life hack,” Walmart said the platform would replace “Delivery Unlimited,” currently available in about 1,000 stores. Walmart’s e-commerce business grew 97% in the most-recent fiscal period to $10 billion.

Chuck Grom, retail analyst with Gordon Haskett Research Advisors, cautions that consumers have been inundated with subscription programs this year, including Disney+, HBO Max and Peacock. He wonders whether the appetite for another plan exists.

“The jury is still out on the ultimate potential of this new offering,” Grom wrote in a note.

Walmart has launched other tech features, including a disc-to-digital platform with studios that enabled users to buy digital codes of their DVD and Blu-ray Disc movies. The program was subsequently offloaded to Vudu, which then allowed users to obtain digital codes from their home.

‘Goaaal!’ Amazon Gets Record U.K. Prime Membership Sign-Ups Streaming Premier League Soccer

Amazon says its foray into live-streaming Premier League soccer matches in the United Kingdom has resulted in record sign-ups with the e-commerce behemoth.

Prime Video streamed 10 matches between Dec. 4-6 with an army of cameras, operators, sound engineers and on-screen talent to analyze the action.

Amazon said it set a U.K. record for Prime membership sign-ups on Dec. 4, which was then broken again on Dec. 6. Amazon does not disclose Prime membership numbers. Media reports suggest Amazon has 15 million members in the U.K. since launching in 2007.

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“We’re delighted that millions of football fans enjoyed watching Amazon’s first ever round of Premier League matches on Prime Video,” Alex Green, managing director of Prime Video Sport Europe, said in a statement.

Green said the matches — similar to IMDb TV and Prime Video content — featured in-program special features such as live stats, ‘X-Ray’ highlights, in addition to commentary-free option.

Amazon’s next Premier League action is a nine-game slate on Dec. 26.

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