Retail behemoth Wal-Mart aquired Vudu, Inc. today in a deal with terms undisclosed. Vudu, the struggling HD streaming service that was on the verge of extinction, had attempted to lure gadget freaks, movie-lovers and general consumers to its service by way of a pricy ($400) set-top box that really never caught on and spelled certain doom for the company as other, less-exclusive services, simply made alliances to be carried by myriad HD hardware manufacturers. Even after ditching the receiver box concept, the combined competition from the likes of Netflix, Hulu and Boxee, meant that Vudu was never quite able to mainstream itself.
Retail giant Wal-Mart will now enter the internet movie delivery world currently dominated by Netflix, by purchasing Santa Clara, CA based Vudu within the next couple weeks. With the acquisition, Wal-Mart will now be in direct competition with Netflix who offers movies by mail, internet on PCs, and streaming to your HDTV.
VUDU announced it will expand its streaming services this year to select HDTVs and Blu-ray players from LG, Mitsubishi, Samsung, SANYO, Sharp, Toshiba and VIZIO. LG was the first to offer VUDU on HDTVs last year, and this year 32 models from the company will be VUDU ready.
The LG BD390 Blu-ray Disc player will add streaming HD service from VUDU later this month, via a free automatic upgrade. The new service allows BD390 owners to buy or rent movies and TV shows from VUDU’s HD library.
LG Electronics has announced VUDU integration on their LH50 1080p LCD series and PS80 Plasma 1080p series televisions. The labeled “NetCast Entertainment Access” will begin next month, allowing viewers to buy or rent from VUDU’s library of over 2,000 high-definition movies.
VUDU announced it now offers movie titles in high definition from Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment/Buena Vista Home Entertainment. This will be a first for Disney, with over 60 HD titles now available for download-to-own in VUDU’s HDX format.
VUDU is now selling hi-def content, saying it’s the first to do so among on-demand providers. The HD movies can be downloaded to the VUDU 1080p Internet Movie Player for between $13.99 and $23.99. The list will start with 50 titles available in HD from independent studios FirstLook, Kino, and Magnolia.
Vudu’s HD VOD library has reached 1,100 titles, surpassing any other cable or satellite’s HD VOD offerings. (Comcast now offers just over 1000.) The company added approximately 150 high-definition titles per week in October and began offering 65 titles in 1080p, the highest resolution currently available.
The set-top box that offers a library of movies via internet connection has now added high-definition content in 1080p. VUDU revealed yesterday its new HDX format which is supposed to rival other internet HD quality formats. However, due to its superior quality and resulting larger file size, the format is available for download only.