BENTONVILLE, Ark.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Today, Walmart Inc. announced a strategic entertainment joint venture with Eko, a developer of interactive video technology. The joint venture includes plans to develop original, interactive content that will enable Walmart to connect with customers in new and more meaningful ways, with the goal of driving deeper and more frequent engagement.
The content, which could include a range of offerings, from cooking shows to interactive toy catalogues, will go beyond the basic personalization available today, allowing viewers to participate in and shape stories as they are being told. The result will be an experience unique to each participant, creating more engaged and emotionally-connected audiences.
The joint venture expands Walmart’s entertainment ecosystem. The retailer already has a strong physical and digital video presence, through stores, websites, the digital platform VUDU and the recently launched eBook platform, Walmart eBooks, with Rakuten Kobo. This joint venture strengthens Walmart’s continued presence in the evolving entertainment landscape.
“Our partnership with Eko will help us accelerate efforts to deepen relationships with customers and connect with new audiences in innovative ways and is one part of an overall entertainment ecosystem we’re building,” said Scott McCall, senior vice president for entertainment, toys and seasonal, Walmart U.S. “By partnering with organizations across the industry to create original, interactive content, we’re bringing the next generation of entertainment to customers and delivering memorable experiences they can only find at Walmart.”
Since 2010, Eko has pioneered the future of entertainment, alongside partners like Sony Pictures Entertainment and MGM Studios. Eko has received prior funding from Sequoia Capital, Intel Capital, Warner Music Group, Samsung, Walmart, and others, and has more than 15 patents for its technology. In connection with the joint venture, Walmart has agreed to participate in Eko’s next funding round.
“The future of video entertainment is interactive, and this joint venture is a huge step towards bringing this future to life,” said Yoni Bloch, chief executive officer of Eko. “In 2018, all forms of media are personalized except for live action video. At Eko, our mission is to evolve past basic personalization and partnering with Walmart will accelerate that evolution. We’re working alongside some of the most creative people from Hollywood and around the world, and we invite others to join us in making great interactive content.”
The joint venture, known as W*E Interactive Ventures, will be led by Bloch, with input from several industry experts. Tribeca Productions co-founder Jane Rosenthal will serve as strategic advisor. Rosenthal, producer of films such as Meet the Parents, Meet the Fockers, About a Boy (film and series), Wag the Dog and the upcoming Scorsese film The Irishman, helps create a bridge for both established and emerging artists looking for an outlet for their work. Nancy Tellem, chief media officer and executive chairwoman of Eko, will serve on the board of the joint venture. Prior to joining Eko, Tellem spent more than 25 years in television including time as president of CBS Network Television Group.
"During my career in broadcast television, I've seen how traditional media has been transformed by technology and have long believed that technology would be the key to creating more engaging entertainment experiences," said Nancy Tellem, executive chairman and chief media officer of Eko. "Audiences are hungry for immersive entertainment, and storytellers are embracing this new technology in creating a new type of story narrative that deeply engages the viewer. Now is the time for Eko and interactive content to take center stage."
Walmart Inc. (NYSE: WMT) helps people around the world save money and live better - anytime and anywhere - in retail stores, online, and through their mobile devices. Each week, nearly 265 million customers and members visit our more than 11,200 stores under 55 banners in 27 countries and eCommerce websites. With fiscal year 2018 revenue of $500.3 billion, Walmart employs over 2.2 million associates worldwide. Walmart continues to be a leader in sustainability, corporate philanthropy and employment opportunity. Additional information about Walmart can be found by visiting http://corporate.walmart.com, on Facebook at http://facebook.com/walmart and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/walmart.
Eko is a pioneering interactive entertainment company that lets audiences shape stories as they unfold. Eko’s technology allows participants to affect, control, and influence interactive entertainment like never before. The company provides a platform for creating, distributing and monetizing interactive stories, and partners with media companies, independent creators and top brands to create deeply engaging experiences for audiences. Stories are distributed through HelloEko.com, affiliate partners, and social networks; available on desktop, mobile and connected devices. The company has over 15 patents for its technology, including its proprietary player, authoring tools and high-efficiency interactive streaming technology. Eko Studio, the company’s suite of authoring tools, is also offered for free to creators, enabling them to craft their own interactive experiences using Eko’s platform.
Forward Looking Statements
This release contains certain forward-looking statements, including the anticipated benefits from the joint venture. Walmart believes such statements are "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, as amended, that are intended to enjoy the protection of the safe harbor for forward-looking statements created thereunder. Assumptions on which such forward-looking statements are based are also forward-looking statements. Walmart's actual results may differ materially from the guidance provided as a result of changes in circumstances, assumptions not being realized or other risks, uncertainties and other factors, including the risk that the joint venture may not be successful or fully achieve the objectives of the participants. You should read this release in conjunction with Walmart’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended January 31, 2018, and Walmart’s subsequently filed Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q and Current Reports on Form 8-K. You should consider all of the risks, uncertainties and other factors identified above and in those SEC reports carefully when evaluating the forward-looking statements in this release. Walmart cannot assure you that the future results reflected in or implied by any such forward-looking statement will be realized or, even if substantially realized, will have the forecasted or expected consequences and effects. Such forward-looking statements are made as of the date of this release, and Walmart undertakes no obligation to update such statements to reflect subsequent events or circumstances.
This release is for informational purposes only and does not constitute an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation of any security in the United States or elsewhere.