What’s up with Vudu? Other than the layoffs.

Dave Zatz —  August 24, 2008

Just a few week ago, Vudu expanded their content library with the introduction of adult titles. And in just a few weeks, Vudu will announce the availability of 1,000 HD movies. However, between the here and there rumors of Vudu’s demise have sprung up. While it appears true nearly 20% of their staff was laid off last week, CE Pro spoke to Vudu and may have put some of these imminent doom claims to bed.

Vudu does indeed have a tough row to hoe  – competing against the likes of Apple TV and every cable set-top box in offering movie rentals (and purchases). Yet, given the nature of the layoffs (including the marketing director) I don’t get the sense Vudu has run out of time. Not to mention – as seen with companies such as Akimbo and ReplayTV, it’s frequently a slow death in the consumer electronics space.

What’s most likely is that the Vudu investors/board are displeased with sales numbers and exposure, and at the same time are looking for ways to cut spending. Indeed, the (implied) near-term nationwide Best Buy rollout should give them hope. If there’s money left, now isn’t the time to pull the plug. But it does seem like they’ve decided it’s time for some new blood.

14 responses to What’s up with Vudu? Other than the layoffs.

  1. Vudu will also be announcing at CEDIA that they intend to offer a lifetime warranty on downloaded content (assuming your hard drive fails?) and that they’ll allow HD resolutions to be passed over component. Something they probably should have done from the get-go if you ask Ben D and something their competitors offer. However, in my opinion Vudu currently provides the best movie download experience and the massive influx of new HD content will shore things up.

  2. Hopefully the decision to show porn will be their demise. It’s refreshing to see bad things happen to bad companies.

  3. What does having AVN content have to do with being a bad company? Most, if not all, content distributors (cable, satellite, etc.) have adult channels. And unlike many of them, you actually have to enable AVN content on VUDU boxes — so if you don’t want it, you’ll never see any trace of it.

    Getting back to the main topic, it’s sad to see some employees leave, but if it means VUDU will be around for longer, that’s just the sacrifice any business has to make.

    CEPro articles talk about some very good improvements (esp. 1,000 HD titles!) with the only bad news being possible switch of consumer-level support to email-only while leaving phone support for dealers.

    Also, to avoid confusion caused by Engadget — regular boxes will only be phased our from custom-installers market (which will sell XL ones). Regular ones will be on the shelves at the stores (Best Buy makes sense since that’s where it was being sold in California).

  4. “What does having AVN content have to do with being a bad company? Most, if not all, content distributors (cable, satellite, etc.) have adult channels.”

    Boy, got me there. Cox/Comcast/Directv ARE pure and upstanding corporations.

    Thanks for defending porn, though. Hope you’re not upset when a loved one is harmed by it. Especially kids. You should be proud of your stance! Toolbox.

  5. Woah…I dont understand. How is a one ‘harmed’ by porn?? Growing up I had access to limited porn on occasion and I dont remember it harming me. I don’t see how having Porn=Bad Company. Does that mean Google=Bad Company since google will lead me to porn in much the same way as Vudu would lead me to porn?

  6. While there are probably “good” companies and “bad” companies, most employees are folks just trying to make an honest living. I wouldn’t wish failure on anyone.

    I’m not personally interested in debating porn, other than to say Vudu’s done a decent job of implementing it in such a way only those who want it will get it. Also the catalog and experience are superior to the FyreTV beta box.

  7. As others have mentioned, if you don’t have any interest in adult content on your VUDU Box, you won’t see it. at all. period. Access to it must be enabled online and then it can be protected behind a code on the box itself. If you’re a fan of mainstream content, we have plenty to choose from and I suspect you’ll find plenty to like.

    Dave, thanks for the continued coverage. As you mentioned, we’re not anywhere near being out of time and continue to work on the product and service to make the best IP-delivered VOD box even better. I’m excited about what we’re be announcing in the coming weeks and months, including those mentioned by Mark in the referenced CEPro Article.

    Take care,

    Patrick Ellis
    Sr. Product Manager, VUDU

  8. For those following along, Vudu’s also put out a release today announcing the new CFO:

    http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/vudu-names-chris-watts-as-chief-financial-officer,515732.shtml

  9. Having been at a startup when they laid off about 20% and then eventually 50% of the staff, I’d say you need to realize that the people left behind are gonna be pretty rocked by a layoff of this size. As much as you might hope that everything will continue along to some degree, the reality is when people get nervous, their productivity goes to hell. Can’t say how the people left at VUDU feel about things at this point, but this sort of layoff could mean the company will have signficant issues maintaining their momentum.

  10. I appreciate everyone’s opinion, but you’re living in the dark ages if you think porn is acceptable, whether you have to work to get it or not. And to say by implementing porn that it’s an ‘honest living’ is a ridiculous statement.

    Most of us have at one point consumed porn. Most of us have no issues with it. But ANYTHING that can be done to lower the risk to the world’s children should be considered. ‘Regular’ porn is nothing more than a gateway for some folks. Not to mention it’s immoral anyway, but it’s a shame that our society puts a value on access to porn.

    Not trying to dump the worlds problems on Vudu, but I certainly feel no empathy for them. There is such a thing as karma, and Vudu is feeling that.

  11. LeonardoDiCrapio August 27, 2008 at 5:42 am

    Frank Farter is right. I started watching Porn, and now I am a hardcore meth head. “Regular” porn is truly a gateway. Hey, but I am getting some great life skills — i.e. learning to steal people’s identities to support my meth habit.

  12. Gateway to child porn, you ass-hat

  13. Let’s keep it civil and on-topic, please.

  14. Leonardo DiCrapio August 27, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    I thought Frank was going all Jerry Falwell on me (as Penthouse’s Larry Flint). I was going to expose him for his first time with the maid behind the shed.