The US video service Flixster has announced closing on August 28, 2017. In effect, the company will no longer accept UltraViolet redemption codes, offer downloads, or stream purchased titles to members.
Flixster says the ending of their video service is due to circumstances beyond their control, and related to the “unexpected shutdown of a critical vendor.” Could that vendor be associated with Fandango — their parent company, or another UV video content distributor? And might the closing be related to CinemaNow’s unexpected change of service? Flixster won’t say.
The company provides some suggestions on where to go after the shutdown, but they don’t direct customers to FandangoNow like you might expect. Instead, the Flixster FAQ page repeatedly points customers to Walmart’s Vudu, even touting the service: “Vudu brings a new and exciting redemption and playback experience for Flixster Video customers,” says an FAQ post.
In the company’s own words:
Flixster Video will no longer support code redemption or streaming and downloading of content. Redeem codes and access your Flixster video collection after that date by signing up or logging into Vudu, another UltraViolet retail service (www.vudu.com) or access your collection from other UltraViolet services like FandangoNOW.
What may be more troubling than Flixster shutting down is they are sending customers away from Comcast-owned Fandango (who bought Flixster early in 2016 from Warner Bros. and had also merged their VOD service M-Go with FandangoNow upon launch), and pointing them towards Vudu.
Fandango “powers” the Flixster service (as seen in the graphic above), and customers could have easily been only redirected to FandangoNow.com.
The shutdown of the US video service also includes Flixster’s apps for mobile devices and TVs. Rather than providing access to Flixster, the opening screen of the apps will direct users to access their UV libraries through Vudu. However, from what we hear Flixster in Canada will not be affected by this US shutdown.
The reaction of many Flixster and UltraViolet library owners to the announcement has been desperate, and goes further to implicate the entire UV structure. “If Vudu falls, then we’re all f___’ed,” said one distraught customer.
Vudu is owned by Walmart, a $220B company that bought the platform in 2010 and integrated it with sales of DVDs and Blu-rays. The service has been on the cutting edge of video delivery by being one of the first to offer 1080p (Full HD) resolution and later 2160p (4k UHD) video with Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos.
What will happen to the Flixster brand itself? Will they still sell movie tickets on Flixster.com? Or, will the domain name redirect to another website or entirely different product like the way CinemaNow.com now points to the streaming TV portal CinemaNowFree.com?
There’s something brewing, but whatever happens we’re hoping UV doesn’t go anywhere. The long-awaited launch of Vudu for Apple TV may provide some additional confidence in the platform, allowing entire libraries of UV-licensed titles to be accessible on the device. Will Amazon Fire TV be next for Vudu as promised at this summer’s WWDC?