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.
Never fear, as Wal-Mart, always trying to corner consumer interest and add sales to its vast empire, is now poised to enter the streaming media market and come out big with as many titles as they can. Wal-Mart execs are already meeting with studio suits to formulate pricing strategies and favorable release windows for newer content as well as increasing catalog availability. This not only allows Wal-Mart to go head-to-head with Netflix, AppleTV, AmazonOnDemand and Best Buy’s recent launch into streaming media by way of their alliance with Sonic Solution’s CinemaNow service (Roxio), but also allows Wal-Mart to possibly get favorable terms from studios wishing to sell and rent to as many folks as possible (and what better way to reach the masses than Wal-Mart, some might say). Now that the streaming VOD fray has been joined by Wal-Mart, expect the other services to fall over themselves in attemping to create more exclusive deals with the movie studios and distributors as well as giving away a bigger piece of the pie for each sell-thru and rental unit. More to come on this as it develops.