The Vudu Status Report

Dave Zatz —  March 6, 2009

vudu

It’s been awhile since we’ve talked Vudu here on ZNF, so it’s time for a 2009 status update. The year started with a second round of layoffs, which came as no surprise given some of the funding chatter that came my way late in 2008. Not surprisingly, Vudu followed this by announcing a renewed focus on licensing the Vudu platform and permanently slashed prices on their standard box by 50% $150 is a much more compelling and competitive price point.

On the experiential end, Vudu now offers HD movie purchases in addition to rentals. In this day and age, however, I have no desire to own digital content. I’d rather rent on demand. Of interest, a pair of iPhone apps have been also released. The official app provides an efficient method to browse and rent HDX titles on the go – so they’re ready for playback when you get home. The Vudu iRemote, like the TiVo DVR iPhone remote, utilizes your network and built-in Vudu home automation hooks to provide touchscreen device navigation.

vudu-iphone

This week, version 2.2 of Vudu software was deployed to boxes, consisting of mostly minor enhancements and fixes. However, the next update is rumored to address some of Last100’s concerns by providing local network storage/archiving… and extender streaming functionality. Something many of will look forward to.

11 responses to The Vudu Status Report

  1. I still like my Vudu box. I own a couple of movies on it, they had a special around Christmas I think to purchase a few HD movies for cheap.
    I was browsing and newish movies that are available for HD purchase floated around the $23.99 price point. For that price I might as well pick up the Blu-ray disk and get all the extras as well.
    On of my favorite things on the new Vudu Labs is the Flickr implantation. I never have really understood why TiVo didn’t do that once Yahoo purchased Flickr.
    I can’t wait to see what the next software update brings, I wouldn’t mind more media streaming, but would love to be able to make local/network backup of my purchased content. They do offer an archive on some titles, where you can download them again from the cloud, but not all titles.

  2. The big question, that Last100 sort of alludes to, is what happens if Vudu goes under? Even if movies are archived locally, would the box need to periodically check in with the mothership for licensing/authentication or something? Although, Vudu is a decent brand and a solid service – hopefully they get acquired if finances go south.

  3. A couple of clarifications for people who may not follow VUDU closely:

    (1) HD/HDX movie purchases announced recently are all indy studios and they can be archived to the cloud (just like all TV shows; most major studio movies aren’t archiveable so that’s why external storage will be welcome);

    (2) VUDU Movie Catalog isn’t restricted to HDX movies, but like Dave notes it’s most useful for that purpose because SD and HD titles are streamed instantly if your speed is high enough;

    (3) iVUDU Remote will only work with installer-only XL and XL2 boxes that have network control feature (forget if it’s part of the extra pack or not). Regular retail boxes don’t have that feature available except for some grandfathered users.

  4. Thanks, Ivan. Didn’t realize the HD purchases are only indie content. And I forgot to mention the IP option isn’t available by default on the base box. Related, is the component limitation still in place for most of those boxes? These arbitrary software restrictions aren’t cool.

  5. For most of my movies, I agree that I’d rather rent than own. The big exception: kids movies. I can’t count how many times my son watches Pixar films like Cars, Toy Story and Wall-E. We purchased Wall-E through iTunes, and it’s great to watch on the Apple TV or while traveling on the iPod Touch. But I’d really prefer to own an HD copy. Especially when I saw the Blu-Ray version playing this week at my local Costco. But I’m not ready to go Blu-Ray just for kids films.

  6. @ Dave: the HD deal announced recently was only with independent studios, but there had been a few “tests” with major studios — first boxes came with two Bourne movies for free and third one for purchase, then during the holidays, you could purchase a few HD/HDX titles (24: Redemption, two Riddick movies, and Unleashed, IIRC).

    XL & XL2 boxes are the only ones that support software expansion packs as a way to upsale them. There’s a good post on the forums (http://forum.vudu.com/showpost.php?p=34962&postcount=48) but basically the only available pack adds “HD over Component (1080i/720p), simultaneous HDMI/Analog Component output and IP Control (NetRemote)”.

    Apparently, it’s a $100 option but looks like Outlaw Audio is including it for free with their XL boxes (they also have “$1000 VUDU credits for $500″ deal for those with faith in VUDU’s future, lol) — http://forums.audioreview.com/showthread.php?t=29464

  7. Hey this is a good conversation about the VUDU here. Just wanted to correct one thing that was said about the purchased content and that the VUDU needs “check in” to allow the content to play.

    Once the content is purchased and downloaded your VUDU doesn’t need to be connected to the internet to play. There is no “check in” to validate the DRM.

    Stop by the VUDU blog, forum, or twitter to get more info about VUDU.

    Ron
    VUDU Evangelist

  8. That’d be good news if we knew for sure it was accurate. However, I do wonder if there’s some sort of digital cert tied to the account or box that’s on a timer which may expire after X days, weeks, or months without a check-in. Hopefully, we’ll never have to find out. You don’t work for Vudu, right?

  9. VUDU has limited capilital, must sell an awful lot of movies to survive. Most likely they will be done in by a lack of technology, lack of funds, lack of business model, and companies such as comcast, Netflix, and Apple will outlast them. They won’t be around much longer.

    VUDU is dead, long live VUDU!!!

  10. Yes its is accurate. Purchased content doesn’t require a “phone home” to play, certificate update, or any other authorization. Purchased content is tied to the box/smartcard combination.

    Also to answer the question if I work for VUDU, nope I am not on the payroll. I am a fan of their movie quality, technology, and their platform.

  11. Don’t know if you get VUDU’s weekly newsletter, Dave, but the latest one has another piece:

    “FirstLook Credit
    With the launch of our industry first HD purchase program, FirstLook Studios and VUDU are excited to be able to offer customers who had previously purchased an SD version of a FirstLook movie a VUDU movie credit for the original SD purchase price when you upgrade to the HD version. If you wish to upgrade, simply purchase the HD version of the FirstLook title you previously purchased in SD; then visit support and submit a request. Please include “FirstLook Upgrade” in the title and we’ll take care of the rest. Within 2 business days a VUDU movie credit in the amount of the SD purchase price will be applied to your account.”