BY KELLY MERTESDORF, SMARTBRIEF

When does a trend become a "thing" with tangible implications both for consumers and businesses? Usually, when a mainstream mega-player from beyond a category vertical takes notice and plunges into the market – as is the case with Walmart's reported plans to take on the likes of Amazon and Netflix and enter the booming streaming media market.

Two years ago, Walmart launched a movies-only streaming service under the clunky name Vudu Movies On Us but is unclear whether the rumored $8-per-month new rival service to Netflix and Amazon will appear under the Vudu brand or not. While the logic behind the move is clear, success is by no means a given – particularly if Walmart tries too hard to emulate Netflix and Hulu. Much will depend on Walmart's ability to capitalize on its appeal to the heartland and turn those customers into an audience.

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