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Walmart Expands Entertainment Strategy With Eko Joint Venture

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Walmart Inc. (WMT) said Thursday that it has formed a joint venture with Eko, a developer of interactive video technology, to develop content that will attract more customers to its digital platforms.

The joint venture, known as W*E Interactive Venture, plans to develop original, interactive content for Walmart's website and its Vudu video service. Eko is a company based in New York and Tel Aviv.

The range of content developed by the joint venture will enable Walmart to connect with customers so as to drive deeper and more frequent engagement. The joint venture will be led by Yoni Bloch, chief executive officer of Yuko.

The content, which could include a range of offerings, from cooking shows to interactive toy catalogues, will allow viewers to participate in and shape stories as they are being told.

Walmart noted that the joint venture will expand its 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.

"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.

Tribeca Productions co-founder Jane Rosenthal will serve as strategic advisor to the joint venture. Nancy Tellem, chief media officer and executive chairwoman of Eko, will serve on the board of the joint venture.

Since 2010, Eko has partnered with Sony Pictures Entertainment and MGM Studios. It has received prior funding from Sequoia Capital, Intel Capital, Warner Music Group, Samsung and Walmart.

As part of the venture, Walmart has agreed to participate in Eko's next funding round.

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