Wal-mart Dabbles In Vudu

Wow. The rumor was true. Wal-mart is indeed acquiring Vudu. Given their prior failed attempt at digital media distribution and MediaMemo’s way-off financing stat, I had a difficult time buying it. But the deal is done – so congrats to the Vudu team.

Vudu’s story arc is interesting. From the beginning, and like many, I found the idea of a premium priced, dedicated movie box problematic. And suspected we had another Moviebeam on our hands as Vudu nearly folded late in 2008 when they discovered what most of us already knew. But after a few rounds of layoffs, a new strategy to port the Vudu experience to 3rd party hardware, a press relations agency upgrade, and additional financing, they quite successfully weathered the storm.

With Best Buy embracing TiVo and Napster it sort of makes sense Wal-mart would want a digital distribution partner of their own. Although the investors recouped their cash, consumers probably aren’t the big winner here. I fully expect Vudu’s AVN channel will be the first thing axed. And Dan Rayburn anticipates the whole enterprise, under Walmart’s stewardship, will fail.

I do hope the original stand-alone boxes see one more software upgrade to move them off P2P distribution and onto the CDN in use by all other Vudu devices. Rather than a complete shuttering. Also, in light of the acquisition, my plan to find a deal on a LG BD390 is on hold.

9 thoughts on “Wal-mart Dabbles In Vudu”

  1. Well, having used the product since before day one, I don’t like the looks of this.

    I would also note, that with the exception (which in this day and age isn’t realistic) of media portability, I think the VUDU QUALITY was tops, not just the HDX format which no other streaming company offers a “near blu-ray” format (the AUDIO is FANTASTIC) even the regular HD is I think better than others. The new ability to STREAM all these formats in real-time with no waiting makes it a better solution IMHO for the end user. OEM integration is a good step, but offering something like a PC client, portable device for travel or easier off-line content offering would make it a real killer. I don’t mind the loss of the inevitable axe to the adult channel, but i don’t like killer it off just to appease a perceived customer base.

  2. Have you tried Zune 1080p yet for HDX comparison? I tried to get Hurt Locker, but it wasn’t “in stock” – ended up watching it on TiVo or Roku via Amazon VOD.

  3. They must have seen this one coming as the AVN channel hasn’t been updated in quite awhile.

    I have VUDU but never watch movies with it, I use it for IPTV so I can watch shows like Techzilla and listen to Pandora on my TV.

    VUDU has movies i want to watch but all the new releases are buy only and I would rather rent them, thank you very much. :)

  4. Yup, this’ll be another failure on Walmart’s part. Obviously Vudu is going to abandon their hardware and focus on their partners, which means no download to own option, just streaming. Which means the earlier tech where they distributed the starts of movies to the hard disk to speed up initial streaming etc is all by the wayside now. Even HDX at 4.5Mbps, may not be feasible for most people. Which leaves a library of HD content, some 2,000 titles? (how many of those are adult I wonder), and a streaming service.

    Ignoring my feelings that this’ll fail now, would you really spend $500 on a Blu-Ray player to get Vudu playback capability? Really?

    Plus of course while Wal-Mart could use their muscle to improve things for Vudu, such as pushing more film studios to allow streaming closer to DVD release date, why would they when they make lots of money selling DVDs?

    I’m not sure I see any way for this to play out that is good for Vudu or their customers…

  5. I don’t see a huge or even measurable price difference between STB’s or DVD (blu-ray included) that have integrated streaming or access media included. Most might have a 25-40$ kicker, but that is about all.

  6. Yeah, prices have come WAY down. The Samsung 1590/1600 with Netflix and Pandora was down to $140 at Target last weekend. Crazy!(Although I wouldn’t recommend that particular unit…)

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