Roku Partners with Walmart for New Soundbar Distribution

Roku and Walmart Oct. 7 announced a partnership that enables the streaming media device pioneer to distribute its new soundbar and wireless subwoofer throughout the world’s largest retailer.

The onn Roku Smart Soundbar and wireless subwoofer will be exclusive to Walmart and for $129 each.

Walmart was one of the first retailers to offer Roku devices linking TVs to the Internet more than 10 years ago.

“We know our customers shop with us for quality products at an affordable price,” Ryan Peterson, VP of consumer electronics for Walmart, said in a statement. “We’re thrilled to be working with Roku to deliver a new category of audio and streaming products in time for the holiday season that are easy to use and come at an incredible value.”

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Featuring HD, 4K UHD, and HDR video, the onn Roku Smart Soundbar offers simple set up and an easy-to-use home screen, while providing access to 500,000+ movies and TV episodes and millions of songs via thousands of paid and free channels.

Advanced audio modes include automatic volume leveling, night mode and speech clarity. Automatic software updates are expected to deliver new capabilities over time.

The optional subwoofer expands the high-quality audio of the soundbar with deeper, richer sound for a claimed theater-like experience in the home.

“The Roku Smart Soundbar gives consumers an easy way to add better sound instantly to nearly any TV, plus with a 4K Roku streaming player built in, it provides easy access to tons of great movies, TV and music entertainment,” added Mark Ely, VP of players and whole home product management at Roku. “Roku and Walmart have worked together for years to enhance the entertainment experience for millions of people who have purchased Roku TV models and Roku streaming players. Now, we’re looking forward to getting these new audio products on shelves to provide consumers with better sound for their TV experience at a great price.”


Best Buy Eyeing $50 Billion in Revenue, $1 Billion in Cost Cuts By 2025

Best Buy is projecting strength and growth heading into an investor event Sept. 25 in New York.

The consumer electronics retail giant’s “Building the New Blue: Chapter Two” under new CEO Corie Barry includes revised financial targets through 2025.

The company plans to trim $1 billion in costs over the period, while boosting revenue to $50 billion, up from 2020 guidance of $43.1 billion to $43.6 billion.

Heady goals in a retail environment under constant siege from ecommerce giants such as Amazon and Walmart, among others.

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Indeed, Best Buy last month revised downward fiscal-year revenue estimates — largely due to ongoing tariff concerns with China.

The company, like most CE retailers and manufacturers, relies in large part on Chinese-made products, including its line of Insignia TVs.

Second-quarter entertainment same-store sales dropped 13.7% compared to a 8.5% increase a year ago. The business unit includes DVD/Blu-ray Disc movies, video game hardware and software, books, music CDs and computer software.

Domestic entertainment revenue topped $441 million, down from $608 million during the previous-year period. The segment represented 5% of Best Buy’s domestic revenue compared to 7% last year. Best Buy closed 13 large format stores in the period.

Regardless, CFO Matt Bilunas remains optimistic.

“In this next chapter, our focus continues to be top-line growth,” Bilunas said in a statement. “We also believe the initiatives we will outline today … along with continued focus on cost reductions, will result in operating income rate expansion over the five-year time frame.”

Merchandising: ‘Dark Phoenix’ Exclusives Rising

Target ‘Dark Phoenix’ box art and poster

The big retailers Sept. 17 made Fox’s X-Men: Dark Phoenix the subject of quite a few exclusive offers.

Target had a special $32.99 version of the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack with a poster by Orlando Arocena and exclusive box art on a slipcover.

Walmart offered a $32.96 gift set of the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack with six collector cards drawn by comic book artists.

Walmart ‘Dark Phoenix’ art cards

Best Buy offered a Steelbook edition of the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray for $34.99.

Best Buy ‘Dark Phoenix’ Steelbook

Among other titles, Best Buy had the new Batman 4-Film Collection 1989-1997 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray boxed set with Steelbook packaging for $89.99.

Walmart had a $27.96 double feature of Sony Pictures’ Spider-Man: Homecoming Blu-ray combo pack with a digital copy of the new Spider-Man: Far From Home redeemable through Vudu.

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Vudu Launches New Features, Content for Family-Friendly Entertainment

Seeking to separate itself from the transactional and ad-supported VOD field, Walmart-owned streaming service Vudu Sept. 12 announced it would offer software that enables users to control and customize their entertainment viewing experience to better meet the needs of their families and their values.

In a blog post, Scott Blanksteen,VP of Vudu, said he’d been hearing from users about better monitoring content available on the site.

“They’ve told us they’re concerned about what their families can browse, purchase and watch,” Blanksteen wrote.

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Starting today, Vudu users can access several new features to help them make “informed decisions” about movie and TV show appropriateness, as well as control and customize the content they want to watch, including:

Dubbed “Family Play,” the software lets users skip or mute objectionable content, including substance abuse, language, violence, sex, and nudity, based on their own preferences.

The feature is available on over 500 eligible major studio titles (both free and paid content). Additional titles will be made available each week.

Through a partnership with Common Sense Media, users will now be able to gauge if a film or TV show is appropriate for the little ones in their homes.

When browsing Vudu’s library, users will find detailed information on thousands of titles, including a parental review and the minimum age recommended by Common Sense Media as appropriate to watch the content, providing a trusted guide for families.

In addition, “Kids Mode” give parents the ability to provide a safe watching experience for their kids. This feature, incorporating data from Common Sense Media, lets viewers limit what kids can browse or view to only content appropriate to the child’s age. Kids Mode is available on both free titles and rented or purchased titles in a customer’s library.

“These features are fully under the control of our viewers, to ensure that each customer can make their own choices about what is appropriate for their family,” Blanksteen wrote. “That’s something we’re really proud of.”

Separately, Vudu is bowing original content, “Mr. Mom” and “Blue’s Clues & You!”

“Mr. Mom,” which premiered Sept. 12  is a 11-episode modern continuation of the classic ’80s film and stars Hayes MacArthur (Super Troopers 2, Angie Tribeca) as a dad who decides it’s his turn to stay at home with the kids when his wife, played by Andrea Anders (Instant Family, Joey), re-enters the workforce.

Viewers can tune in for new episodes every Thursday through Oct. 10 to see how the Anderson family proves that family is a full-time job.

And on Sept. 27, Vudu will exclusively debut three episodes of Nickelodeon’s “Blue’s Clues & You!,” a remake of the ground-breaking preschool series, ahead of its premiere on Nickelodeon in November.

“‘Mr. Mom’ and ‘Blue’s Clues & You!’ are the first of many original and exclusive entertainment programs that Vudu viewers will be able to enjoy,” Blanksteen wrote.


Merchandising: Focusing on ‘Aladdin’ and ‘John Wick’

Retailers offered plenty of exclusives for the Sept. 10 releases of Blu-rays for Disney’s Aladdin and Lionsgate’s John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum.

The exclusives actually extended to both versions of Disney’s Aladdin, the 2019 live-action version and the original 1992 animated classic.

Target offered 40-page filmmaker gallery books with the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo packs for both versions, at $34.99 each.

Best Buy had $34.99 Steelbook editions for each one.

Target’s 4K Blu-ray for 2019’s ‘Aladdin’ with gallery book
Target’s 4K Blu-ray for 1992’s ‘Aladdin’ with gallery book


Best Buy’s Steelbook for 2019’s ‘Aladdin’
Best Buy’s Steelbook for 1992’s ‘Aladdin’

For John Wick: Chapter 3, both Target and Best Buy offered Steelbook editions with different covers.

Target’s version was the Blu-ray/DVD combo pack for $24.99.

Best Buy had a $29.99 Steelbook of the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray version. There was also a $19.99 mini-Steelbook containing a digital copy code of the film, plus a bundle of both (now sold out) for $39.99.

Walmart offered the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray for $24.99 packed with a replica of an Adjudicator coin from the film.

Target’s Steelbook for ‘John Wick: Chapter 3’
Best Buy’s Steelbook for ‘John Wick: Chapter 3’
Best Buy’s mini-Steelbook for ‘John Wick: Chapter 3’

Best Buy also had a 4K Blu-ray Steelbook of Universal’s Casino for $24.99.

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Merchandising: Here Come the ‘Men in Black’ Exclusives

Best Buy’s ‘Men in Black: International’ Steelbook

Each of the big three major retailers put their own spin on Sony Pictures’ new Men in Black: International Blu-ray upon its Sept. 3 release.

Best Buy offered a Steelbook edition of the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray of the fourth “Men in Black” film for $29.99.

Target’s ‘Men in Black: International’ Blu-ray

Target had the Blu-ray combo pack with an exclusive 48-page companion mini-book at $22.99.

And Walmart had a $29.96 bundle that included the Blu-ray combo pack of the new film and digital copies of the first three “MIB” films redeemable through the Vudu digital service.

Walmart also had exclusive availability of Nickelodeon’s Paw Patrol: Ready Race Rescue DVD with Vudu digital copy for $14.96, from Paramount.

In addition, Walmart appears to have early availability of Warner’s Scooby-Doo! Return to Zombie Island animated movie on DVD for $12.96. The movie was widely released digitally Sept. 3 and will be available everywhere else on DVD Oct. 1.

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Merchandising: The Secret Life of Retail Exclusives

The big three retailers offered a slew of exclusives for several of the new home video releases on Aug. 27.

For Universal’s animated The Secret Life of Pets 2, Walmart offered the Blu-ray combo pack as a $27.96 gift set that included two Funko Pocket Pop! keychains.

Target offered a $26.99 Blu-ray gift set with “Gallery Book” packaging.

Best Buy had the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray of the animated sequel in Steelbook packaging for $32.99.

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For Warner’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Best Buy had the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray in Steelbook packaging for $34.99, and an exclusive 3D/Blu-ray/DVD/Digital combo pack for $29.99 (the wide 3D release doesn’t include the DVD).

Best Buy also offered the Rocketman 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray in Steelbook packaging for $32.99.

Target is offering a free $5 gift card with purchase of Rocketman and the CD soundtrack, which is offered at $13.99 with two exclusive songs. The disc of the movie is available at $17.99 for the DVD, $22.99 for the Blu-ray, and $27.99 for the 4K Blu-ray.

Walmart is selling a $29.96 three-film “John Wick” collection that contains Blu-rays of the first two movies and a digital copy of the third film to watch on Vudu.

Vudu Bowing ‘Mr. Mom’ Series Premiere Sept. 12

Walmart’s digital storefront Sept. 12 will bow the season premiere of its first original series, “Mr. Mom.”

Based on the classic 1983 Michael Keaton film, the show updates the story with Megan (Andrea Anders) and Greg (Hayes MacArthur) at a parenting crossroads. After five years raising their two kids at home, Megan has unexpectedly landed her dream job. Greg’s career is anything but a dream job, so after several failed attempts at securing childcare he abruptly quits in order to take his turn as the stay-at-home parent.

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He’s thrust headlong into a world of tantrums, diapers and cheese sticks, all while finally attempting to get his start-up off the ground. Megan quickly finds out just how much has changed as she reenters a workplace filled with overeager millennials.

The first episode will be available for viewing for free on Vudu, which also released a trailer for the season.

Nickelodeon ‘Paw Patrol’ DVD Released as Walmart Exclusive

Paw Patrol: Ready, Race, Rescue, a feature-length episode of the Nickelodeon series, will be released Sept. 2 exclusively at Walmart on DVD along with other series merchandise.

The DVD will be bundled with a digital copy of the 44-minute episode at $14.96.

The preschool series “PAW Patrol” is produced by Spin Master Entertainment. Ready, Race, Rescue follows the 2018 direct-to-video release Paw Patrol: Mighty Pups. In the new adventure, the pups take to the track for the Adventure Bay 500 and need to speed into action when legendary race car driver, The Whoosh, can’t compete.

The Ready, Race, Rescue product assortment will include toys, apparel, accessories, footwear, home, and health and beauty items. Walmart and Viacom Nickelodeon Consumer Products are also partnering on events in 800 stores nationwide the weekend of Sept. 7.

VNCP is also planning race-themed marketing initiatives to celebrate the exclusive collection, starting with a NASCAR sponsorship with partner Spin Master Entertainment. A Ready, Race, Rescue-themed Kids Zone, “Paw Patrol” costumed character appearances and activations will be featured at NASCAR’s event in Richmond, Va., Sept. 21. In the lead up to the event, seven influencers across the country will “Race Across America” and post from various states before “arriving” in Richmond.

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In its sixth season, “Paw Patrol” follows a pack of rescue pups — Chase, Marshall, Rubble, Skye, Rocky, Zuma, Everest and Tracker — who are led by a tech-savvy boy named Ryder. The series features a curriculum that focuses on citizenship, social skills and problem-solving. Nickelodeon recently renewed the series for a seventh season of 26 half-hour episodes.

Merchandising: Retailers Rest Post-‘Avengers’

Retailers didn’t offer much in the way of exclusives for the new releases of Aug. 20, instead keeping a lot of shelf space dedicated to Disney’s Avengers: Endgame. Many of those shelves were empty, however, as fans continued to buy the superhero movie at a brisk pace.

One exclusive that did show up during the week came at Walmart, which offered a $22.96 two-DVD set pairing Universal’s A Dog’s Purpose with its newly released sequel, A Dog’s Journey. 

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Otherwise, Best Buy continued to tout preorders of 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Steelbooks at $34.99 each of upcoming titles, including Universal’s The Secret Life of Pets 2, Fox’s X-Men: Dark Phoenix, Warner’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Paramount’s Rocketman and Lionsgate’s John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum.

Best Buy also has an exclusive Steelbook of the upcoming 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray of Warner’s The Wizard of Oz.