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Walmart is buying smart TV maker Vizio for $2.3 billion

Walmart is looking to boost its ad business via Vizio's SmartCast OS.

Vizio

Walmart is buying Smart TV manufacturer Vizio for $2.3 billion, the retail giant announced as part of its latest earnings report. While Walmart has long been one of the major sellers of Vizio TVs, the company says the acquisition "enables a profitable advertising business that is rapidly scaling" via the company's SmartCast OS. The deal is still subject to regulatory approval.

Vizio sells solid mid-range TVs, most equipped with its SmartCast operating system that supports free ad-supported content. The company recently refreshed its lineup with a more intuitive user interface and faster startups and app switching.

Walmart, meanwhile, prominently features the brand on its shelves (along with TCL), as anyone who has gone there lately has probably noticed. The retailer already has its own TV house brand, ONN, but those sets are very much on the low end, usually selling for under $500.

More importantly, the companies plan to combine their respective ad businesses. Walmart already has a $2.7 billion ad business, but Vizio would increase its access to key consumer info like viewership data. It would also effectively give Walmart more eyeballs for its ads — for instance, companies that sell goods at Walmart could also run ads on Vizio TVs, all of which could be tracked by the retailer.

"We believe the combination of these two businesses would be impactful as we redefine the intersection of retail and entertainment," said Walmart VP Seth Dallaire. "Our technology will help bring a scaled, connected TV advertising platform to Walmart Connect," added Vizio CEO William Wang.

The acquisition may also be a counter to Amazon's in-house Fire TV business, both in terms of television retailing and advertising, as The Wall Street Journal reported last week. Amazon has one of the largest ad businesses in the US behind Alphabet and Meta, and smart TVs help it gather personalized consumer data for targeted advertising.