Walmart announced Thursday it’s partnered with Eko, a New York-based startup specializing in “interactive storytelling” that allows viewers to choose the direction a show or commercial takes, to develop new digital content.
“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,” Walmart said in its announcement. “The result will be an experience unique to each participant, creating more engaged and emotionally-connected audiences.”
The bet on the nascent choose-your-own path industry is a big one for the retail giant: Walmart is putting $250 million into its Eko partnership, dubbed W*E Interactive Ventures, according to the New York Times.
“We are not trying to become a studio,” Scott McCall, a Walmart senior vice president for entertainment, toys and seasonal told the Times. “It is our hope that we will work with studios to reimagine what new content looks like.”
The Eko partnership comes as Walmart is increasingly looking to take on its chief rival, Amazon, not only in retail but in entertainment. Walmart has been weighing the launch of its own Netflix-like streaming service for $8 per month, along with a free service that would be supported by ad revenue.
Earlier this week, Walmart signed a deal with Metro Goldwyn Mayer to produce content for Vudu, its video-on-demand service that’s made few waves since Walmart acquired it in 2010. Despite its flurry of deals, though, Walmart isn’t willing to put billions of dollars into content, according to Reuters — something streaming heavyweights like Netflix, Amazon, and even new entrants like Apple are now doing annually.