Walmart may be considering launching a branded over-the-top video service, but it hasn’t turned its back on home entertainment at the retail level.
The world’s largest retail chain of home entertainment reported low single-digit increase in same-store entertainment sales during the second quarter (ended July 27). It was the strongest entertainment quarter in the fiscal year. Entertainment includes electronics, DVD, Blu-ray Disc movies, music CDs, video games and books.
During a recent late-night visit to a Walmart Supercenter in North Platte, Neb. (pop. 25,000), new-release and catalog movies and TV shows were available in abundant supply across all formats (including 4K UHD Blu-ray) in point-of-purchase displays and on store shelves.
From Warner Home Video’s Ocean’s 8 Blu-ray/DVD/Digital combo placard greeting visitors at the door to the $3.74 DVD dump bin, this Walmart store had exponentially more titles than customers.
The location featured standalone displays for catalog titles in price points ranging from $9.96, $14.96 to $24.96. The Ocean’s 8 4K UHD Blu-ray combo (which bowed Sept. 11) was available for $29.96.
The latest HD format appears to be taking off, according to the Consumer Technology Association. The trade group expects 1.2 million 4K UHD Blu-ray Disc players to ship in 2018 (39% growth over 2017), which will make up 22% of all BD player shipments (regular BD + UHD BD). 4K UHD Blu-ray player revenue is expected to reach $180 million (up 17% over 2017).
The North Platte Walmart also marketed titles available through the industry-backed Movie Anywhere platform as well as Walmart-owned Vudu.com. The latter included digital cards for sale that activate online access to content through a code printed on the purchase receipt.
While this Walmart store didn’t appear to be shrinking shelf space for packaged media, it did heavily market digital access. A strategy Michael Pachter, media analyst with Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles, contends reflects geography, especially in rural areas he says are behind the curve in adopting digital distribution.
“Sounds like what we saw five years ago in metropolitan areas,” said Pachter.
Media Play News just reported 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment’s ‘R’-rated superhero comedy Deadpool 2 was the top-selling disc for the third consecutive week.
And with good reason.
Fox’s shrewd in-store marketing of the sequel starring Ryan Reynolds features an entire display of “other” Fox titles with the Deadpool character superimposed on the box art and following disclaimer on the back: “I wish I was in this movie but I’m not.”
The marketing, however, was lost on Katie O’Shea, a Boulder, Colo., resident in the North Platte Walmart shopping for vacation staples.
Wandering through the entertainment section, O’Shea had stumbled across the DVD dump bin and began digging.
“I look for actors I like and movies I haven’t seen,” she said. “I like action movies. They are in a bargain bin. They’re less expensive. Seems like a good deal you can’t resist.”
O’Shea, whose DVD purchases included Criminal (Lionsgsate), The Monuments Men (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment) and Three Kings (Warner Bros.), said she was impressed with the quality of movies available in the dump bin, adding that paying $14.99 or more for a movie at Walmart seemed too expensive.
“I can pay that at home,” she said. “It was fun to look through the selections.”