Walmart Teases Roku Vudu Channel

Dave Zatz —  June 6, 2012


If Walmart’s June 10th circular is any indication, not only will the new Roku HD see a $10 price drop but it’ll also receive access to Vudu. Of course, Vudu is one of the more compelling video-on-demand services known for stellar high def streaming and cloud access to purchased (Ultraviolet) content – including disc-to-digital. Oh yeah, Vudu also happens to be owned by Walmart.

Assuming a Roku Vudu channel app comes to pass, the Roku HD tops out at 720p and I’m not certain even the 1080p-capable Roku 2 XS or XD can handle Vudu’s HDX bitrates. So while Amazon Instant will see some competition, this may not provide the best of breed HD that has set Vudu apart. One other note… While the Roku HD looks similar to the Roku 2, it’s slightly bigger to accomodate standard RCA composite (SD) outputs.

Update: Roku has informed me that the Vudu logo next to that Roku HD is a Walmart misprint. But, given Roku doesn’t comment on future initiatives, perhaps there’s still hope… someone has to bring Ultraviolet to the Roku platform, after all. Unless it’s Roku themselves.

23 responses to Walmart Teases Roku Vudu Channel

  1. I should clarify that if the Vudu channel comes to pass, I’d expect to see it on all current Roku models (and hopefully the prior generation ones as well).

  2. The Roku encoding guide from their SDK recommends a max of 8mbps. I’ve heard of one report that states much higher bitrate mp4s can be played on the Roku2.

    IIRC the vudu HDX bitrate is 9mbps. If so, I’m pretty sure the Roku2 hardware can handle that. Not sure about the Roku1 boxes though.

  3. syber — I believe you are correct; I’m pretty certain Vudu notes 9 Mbps for HDX and 4 Mbps for HD.

    It will be nice to see Roku and Vudu finally come together. Now if Roku could find time to turn their attention to updating the UI and developing some type of integrated search across the apps — at least the major apps.

  4. It’d be pretty killer if Roku managed HDX. In fact, I’d definitely convert more DVDs to HD cloud content via the disc-to-digital program. But, yeah, like jcm says – the UI needs an overhaul.

  5. Vudu has more or less stolen our paid on-demand business from Verizon. The reason – broader offering, cheaper prices and decent interface on the PS3 or the panny blu ray. We do a lot of family movies with the kids, so older is fine, and sorted by rotten tomatoes score is a plus.

    We have a small LCD/dvd that we store in a closet and use in the bedrooms if some one gets sick. I could see picking up a roku to go with that as these prices get lower. Something to watch for.

  6. I had a chat with a Verizon product guy maybe 9 months ago about similar – I told him Apple TV VOD was quicker (to navigate) and cheaper. Although, recently, aTV streaming has been stuttering and we’ve gravitated back towards Amazon Instant on Roku. And Redbox Blu-rays.

  7. “I had a chat with a Verizon product guy maybe 9 months ago about similar – I told him Apple TV VOD was quicker (to navigate) and cheaper. Although, recently, aTV streaming has been stuttering and we’ve gravitated back towards Amazon Instant on Roku. And Redbox Blu-rays.”

    Speaking of Verizon, out of curiosity, did your aTV issues begin with your move away from the sweet wire?

  8. They did not… I was streaming fine at the new location and then suddenly I was not. Having said that, it could very well be my network environment. But the fact that it once worked and other services (Amazon, Hulu, Netflix) seem to work suggest iTunes has problems or aTV cannot overcome my network the way the others can.

  9. Vudu HDX only needs 4.5mbps per their site and i can vouch for that as (before upgrading to comcast internet) i used to watch HDX movies on AT&T 6mpbs ADSL without problems. I absolutely love Vudu – for some reason the streaming movie world’s best kept secret. “What’s Vudu?” my friends ask, but they never ask me “What’s Hulu?” – when they often have Vudu available on their Bluray / smart TV and don’t even know it.

  10. “I had a chat with a Verizon product guy maybe 9 months ago about similar – I told him Apple TV VOD was quicker (to navigate) and cheaper. Although, recently, aTV streaming has been stuttering and we’ve gravitated back towards Amazon Instant on Roku. And Redbox Blu-rays.”

    I’d chime in and say I had similar stuttering problems with my atv (3rd gen).

    When Apple pushed out an iOS app for their wireless stations I went ahead and bought a refurb base station and placed it behind the TV/HT (HDHomerun Prime), PS3, with the ATV. All are wired to the refurb, which is set up to extend the wireless network.

    No problems so far and Airplay seems stable. Did any of the previous two software updates, including last week’s solve any issues?

    I’m hoping the WWDC opens the ATV to run apps. If and when that happens, I’m chucking cable.

  11. FWIW, I just streamed a 1080p mp4 movie with a bitrate of 21.3mbps and it played flawlessly on my Roku2.

    Now an adaptive bitrate stream is a bit more complicated then a simply mp4 stream, but at least we can be assured that the Roku2 video decoders can easily handle the HDX bitrate.

  12. Yeah, just like @hamish, I stream HDX just fine on a 6MB 5.3MB actual AT&T DSL connection. Maybe it is compressed even more than normal HDX, but it looks stunning and SOUNDS great. I would love to be able to finally get Vudu on the Roku!

  13. Just came from WalMart they had a sign up next to the Roku devices that Vudu was a misprint…

  14. Hm, I assumed it was legit and didn’t bother inquiring with Roku because they always respond to queries such as these that don’t discuss future plans. But, given this development, I’ve reached out for clarification. I’ll also swing by a Walmart at some point to see if there’s a sign in my region as well that we can post.

    Update… Roku confirms this is indeed a Walmart misprint. Bummer.

  15. It’d be great to see Vudu come as an app on Roku. I just did the dvd to digital conversion on 5 dvds, I like the apps being on iOS, PS3, and 360 but adding it to Roku would be killer for me. Hopefully it’s really something in the works and comes out in the next few months.

  16. The other rub to this is that it appears Apple might have new hardware/software for the home and on the go, on Monday.

    And since Vudu is Wal-Mart, maybe they are out to discount and clear inventory, prior to Monday.

  17. Guys it has to happen. I have $142.00 in my Vudu acct and the only way Ill probably ever use it s if they go to ROKU. I have my VuDu boxes unplugged for quite some time!!

  18. Looks like no big update to Apple TV, today anyway.

    Vudu HDX might in fact stream at 4.5Mbps but that’s not going to be particularly good quality. A typical cable station might do HD at 15Mbps HD (2.5 channels per 6MHz QAM 256 band) or maybe even a bit lower at 3 channels per 6MHz band so maybe 12Mbps. Course that’s MPEG-2 so divide these numbers by half for an h.264 comparison. Still, 4.5Mbps is considerably lower than that. And people might be happy enough with cable but its not like its blu-ray or something. And this is quite a bit lower than that.

    4.5Mbps is in the same range as Apple TV 1080 and Microsoft XBox 1080 content, which means its nothing special anymore. Not saying its bad, just no reason to buy HDX movies if that’s all the bandwidth you’ve got.

  19. Go to and search for D-Link MovieNite Streaming Player, DSM310.
    It’s a similar device to a Roku box. The player can get Vudu, Netflix, YouTube, Pandora, Picasa and etc.
    I don’t know if it can receive hidden channels that Roku can offer.
    It can do wired(ethernet) or wireless.
    This evening I am going to Walmart to buy one at reduced price of $38.00 down from $48.00. Great price!
    I already have a Roku 2 XS which cost me about $99 and has ethernet or wireless hookup.
    Roku can’t get the full Youtube offering.

  20. We reviewed the MovieNite here:

    It’s pretty bad and had to be returned…

  21. Yah, Roku emailed me last night and I loaded up the channel/app this AM. Haven’t gotten around to blogging it. The app was published (privately) in July, so Walmart and Roku knew it was coming… but obviously jumped the gun with the advertisement.

  22. Neither is “zat”