Walmart and Eko Announce Joint Venture to Create Interactive Storytelling for Entertainment and Retail

Walmart and interactive video pioneer, Eko, to innovate on how entertainment is used to attract and engage retail customers

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. 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.- Scott McCall, senior vice president for entertainment, toys and seasonal, Walmart U.S.

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.”