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Walmart Enlists Mark Greenberg, Former Epix CEO, to Develop Netflix Competitor

Walmart has turned to cable-industry veteran Mark Greenberg to help develop a low-cost subscription video-streaming service, sources confirmed to Variety.

Greenberg exited Epix last fall after nearly a decade running the premium TV venture as CEO, which he helped launch. Epix is now owned by MGM, which bought out its two other founding partners — Lionsgate and Paramount Pictures — in April 2017.

Industry sources confirmed a Wall Street Journal report that Greenberg is working with Walmart to scope out a potential subscription VOD service, with a lineup of content and a price point designed to appeal to Walmart’s core base of consumers in “Middle America.” The retailing giant is planning to jump into the subscription-video space, angling to compete with Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

Walmart has declined to comment on its SVOD streaming plans. Greenberg didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Previously, sources told Variety that Walmart was looking to launch the pay-streaming service through its Vudu division and targeting a rollout in the fourth quarter of 2018. According to the Journal, Walmart’s SVOD service would be separate from Vudu; in addition, the company is still doing due diligence on the initiative and expects to make a go/no-go decision by late summer or early fall, the newspaper reported.

It’s not clear at this point what programming a Walmart SVOD package might include. But its chances of success will obviously hinge on the nitty-gritty details of how much it costs — and what customers will be able to watch.

Walmart’s exploration of an SVOD service was first reported last week by The Information. According to that report, Walmart is mulling an $8-per-month price point to undercut the entry-level pricing of Netflix and Amazon’s video products.

For Walmart, Greenberg represents an exec who’s well-versed in the challenges of running a subscription-video service. He was part of the founding team that created the strategic blueprint for Epix, which was the first cable TV network designed to span multiple platforms: linear TV, VOD and digital devices.

Prior to co-founding Epix, Greenberg ran a management and consulting company whose clients included Comcast, Participant Media and Lionsgate. He also has worked for HBO and Showtime.

Since its 2009 launch, Epix has been available on multiple platforms and devices — but so far it has been available only to subscribers of participating pay-TV providers. After Greenberg’s departure, Epix said it was developing a standalone subscription VOD service.

Walmart acquired Vudu in 2010, and the service competes with the likes of Apple’s iTunes, Amazon Video and Google Play. Vudu currently offers 150,00 titles to buy or rent, while its free, ad-supported streaming service, called Movies On Us, includes 5,000 movies and TV shows.

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