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TECHCRUNCH

Walmart appears to have big plans for its video streaming service, Vudu. On the heels of a partnership with MGM for original content, new reports claim the retailer is now in discussions with various video services, in the hopes of making them accessible through Vudu itself. That move would make Vudu more like Amazon’s Prime Video Channels, an offering that allows customers to pick and choose which streaming service subscriptions they want to access through Prime Video.

The news was first reported by AdAge and Bloomberg, with both reporting that the types of services that could arrive on Vudu as add-on subscriptions include HBO NOW, Showtime and Starz.

The talks are still in the very early stages, the reports claim.

If Walmart chooses to go this route with Vudu, it shouldn’t be too difficult to get these deals done.

As more consumers cut the cord with traditional pay TV, premium cable TV networks need new ways to achieve distribution. Even the broadcaster CBS has ventured into over-the-top subscriptions, with CBS All Access, a service that offers live TV, on-demand series, and original programming like the new “Star Trek” series, which is only accessible to its cord cutting audience.

It would not be an unusual step for Vudu to include add-on subscriptions – most live TV streaming services do today, as well as marketplaces like Prime Video Channels, and even on-demand streamers like Hulu.

What is interesting, however, is that Walmart is now paying attention to Vudu, whose potential it has overlooked for years. Vudu hasn’t received a major new feature since the launch of “Movies on Us” two years ago. That brought a free streaming movie channel to the service, similar to the new Roku Channel. But for the most part, Vudu’s audience are viewers looking for movie rentals and purchases, not streaming content.

That could ultimately prove a challenge for Vudu, as consumers associate the brand with purchases, not subscriptions. They may not think to ever check Vudu for signing up to something like HBO or Showtime.

Walmart has also been rumored to be considering its own Netflix competitor, which could help fill out a new streaming offering in the future.