Wal-Mart buys Vudu, jumps into streaming movies. (Porn, too?)

Wal-Mart buys Vudu, jumps into streaming movies. (Porn, too?)

Summary: Mega retailer Wal-Mart reportedly has purchased Vudu, a startup that streams Hollywood movies to television sets over the Internet

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TOPICS: Mobility, Hardware
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Wal-Mart, considered to be one of the biggest retailers of DVD movies, is getting into the streaming movie business with a reported acquisition of Vudu, a Silicon Valley-based startup that has been pushing the idea of  Web-based streaming movies into consumer living rooms.

The terms of the deal were not learned by the New York Times, which reported the news this morning. Neither Wal-Mart nor Vudu had confirmed the deal to the NYT but the news outlet cited interviews with at least two people familiar with the deal and said the two companies began informing Hollywood studios and TV makers today.

Assuming the report is accurate, the move could fast-forward the sales of Web-connected television sets that made a splash at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last month. Of course, Wal-Mart is a big retailer of televisions, as well.

Vudu, a three-year-old company, has struggled as a start-up, largely because consumers were resistant to yet another box to connect to their TV sets. Last year, with a new CEO on -board, the company stopped making devices and instead started offering its movie store and interactive software as a feature for device makers, the NYT said.

As a side note, it will be interesting to see if Wal-Mart - known as a family-friendly retailer - will make any adjustments to the content lineup being offered by Vudu, notably adult movies. A year ago, I cited Vudu as an example of the crossover relationship between the mainstream consumer electronics industry and the adult industry - both of which host big conferences in Las Vegas on overlapping dates every January.

Vudu, which boasted having the greatest number of HD titles available, also has a discreet AVN (Adult Video Network) channel. The company says it has hundreds of titles from leading adult studios available and, for some titles, a high-def offering. It has also built-in discreet billing, password-protected privacy controls and competitive pricing to rent or own.

Regardless, as content slowly starts to morph away from physical DVDs and DVD players and more toward Internet streaming for video content, the move - on the surface - looks to be a good thing for both companies as well as Hollywood. Wal-Mart needed an online video strategy, Vudu needed something to advance its technology and Hollywood needed a way to keep stay-at-home viewers legally engaged with their productions.

update: Wal-Mart has issued a press release announcing the deal but provides no details of the terms, other than to say it's expected to close in the next few weeks.

Meanwhile, Peter Kafka at All Things D's Media Memo blog is reporting today that Wal-Mart is paying $100 million for Vudu, citing an unnamed source. Last month, Kafak wrote that Wal-Mart was eyeing Vudu and sad that Vudu had been marketing itself with a $50 million price tag.

In its release, Wal-Mart said Vudu will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Walmart and that it wasn't disclosing financial terms because the acquisition is not material to its first quarter 2011 earnings.

About Vudu, the company said:

VUDU has licensing agreements with almost every major movie studio and dozens of independent and international distributors to offer approximately 16,000 movies, including the largest 1080p library of video on-demand movies available anywhere. Via their broadband Internet connection, users have the ability to rent or buy titles and begin viewing them instantly.

VUDU will continue developing entertainment and information delivery solutions such as VUDU Apps, a platform that delivers hundreds of streaming Internet applications and services to TVs and Blu-ray players with built-in Internet connectivity. VUDU has partnered with some of the leading names in Internet and media entertainment to offer applications on its platform including Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, The New York Times and The Associated Press.

Topics: Mobility, Hardware

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8 comments
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  • InterNet capable TVs or set top boxes = POOR VALUE

    Why would I want to pay extra for an InterNet capable TV or set top
    box that will only connect to a limited number of fixed web services
    that the device manufacturer has struck a commercial deal with. How
    does that represent long term value to the customers.

    OH....RIGHT.... the customer's interests are of little importance when it
    come to corporate value chain considerations.

    What ever happened to the old "CUSTOMER IS KING" as the key to
    forming a long term and thus profitable relationship with your
    customers?

    I guess we still have to leave that up to Apple. Everybody wants to be
    the next Apple Killer as long as they don't have to stoop to Apples level
    and actually practice any form of "CUSTOMER IS KING" because
    everybody knows customers are not willing to pay extra for a quality
    experience, except if you're Apple. Duh, someone with deep pockets
    should just go ahead and give it a try, it just might work, their price
    commoditization approaches certainly have not?

    That leaves me with little other choice, I will just have to waiting untill
    next year when Apple takes it's obvious next step and just slaps a
    version of the iPad's circuitry right into a Flat Panel TV. That way I will
    have access to a complete web browser, all web based services
    including all web video services and a huge array of custom App Store,
    native App based services. There you go AppleTV - Version-3
    raycote
    • Hmmm...

      You must know a lot more about these televisions than I do. I only know what I've seen on that VIZIO commercial, which portrays one can view the youtube, and the flickr, and other image/video based web sites/services.
      bigsibling
  • Vudu is higher quality

    Vudu movies can be downloaded in 1080p with Dolby Digital sound, which is better than you can get from any other streaming source. It is the preferred option for those who appreciate the difference. They also have access to some web sites, but that is not the primary focus. I can't imagine that Walmart will continue with the X rated movies, but time will tell.
    greg@...
  • X-Rated?

    That will get the religious community all up in arms. More specifically the Christian community.

    Wal-mart claims to be a family oriented company. As far as Christian leaders are concerned, that means the porn must go.

    That, or Wal-mart must no longer refer to itself as a family oriented business.

    I wonder, if this will end up as Christians vs K-mart the sequel?
    satovey@...
    • And why not?

      Just because non-Christians think that evil is good doesn't make it so. People might think of God as a "kill joy" for encouraging us not to do stupid things (like trash our minds / spirits with porn), but I have a feeling that since He invented us, He might know a thing or 2 about what is good for us and what is bad for us. Like many things in life: just because we can do something, doesn't mean we should. A person CAN eat only junk food all their lives - but that comes with a price. A person CAN watch porn as much as they like - but it also comes with a price. The main difference between the 2 is: 1) Porn creates spiritual / emotional disease / disorder which is not readily visible 2) Loosing weight is FAR easier to do than ridding oneself of spiritual baggage and demonic forces 3) The "fallout" from obesity is confined largely to ones self and anyone who has to end up caring for such a person, where spiritual contamination and problems run thru generation after generation, potentially affecting the lives and futures and outcomes of tens or even hundreds of people... Still all our choice, but wrong is still wrong, right is still right, and God makes the rules. End of story.
      naibeeru
      • God leaves it up to the individuals. nt

        nt
        eargasm
    • Things you don't want to watch being made: laws, sausages, a family.

      Well... maybe if you are professionally interested in sausages...
      Robert Carnegie 2009
  • Video streaming price comparison

    You should also checkout http://piratealts.com
    It compares prices and check availability on Amazon Instant Video, Netflix & iTunes
    Igal Dvir