Update: The rumors are true. Vudu and Wal-Mart announced a definitive agreement for the retail giant to buy the streaming video service today after the close of Wall Street. The deal is expected to close in the next few weeks and - not surprisingly - no price was given. The full release is reprinted after the jump.
Technotainment reached out to a Vudu spokesperson who said he had no comment at this time. The Journal says the companies began informing studios and TV manufacturers of the deal today.
Vudu, for the unfamiliar, is a streaming media company that allows users to rent of purchase movies. In January at CES, it announced a number of deals with manufacturers – including LG Electronics, Mitsubishi, Samsung, Sanyo, Sharp, Toshiba and Vizio - to have its service embedded in television and Blu-ray hardware.
We’ve written about Vudu previously here and have been very impressed with the service and its potential. It could become one of the biggest threats to Netflix’s dominance of the online video space, though it offers a dramatically different business model.
Netflix, of course, has been attracting the attention of the studios recently – and not in a way it had hoped. Warner Bros. has convinced the company to not rent any of its releases until they’ve been commercially available for 28 days.
Wal-Mart has a little more leverage than Netflix, though, and may be able to negotiate better terms for releases on Vudu. At the very least, it should be able to significantly increase the number of titles the service offers.
A less important question in the grander scheme of things, but an interesting one nonetheless is: If this report is accurate, what does the deal mean for Vudu’s relationship with porn companies?
Vudu allows people to rent or purchase films from adult film studios, including Vivid and Digital Playground. Wal-Mart guards its family friendly reputation ferociously. It’s questionable whether it will continue to offer adult films.
BENTONVILLE, Ark., Feb. 22, 2010 -- Walmart announced today a definitive agreement to acquire VUDU, Inc., a leading provider of digital technologies and services that enable the delivery of entertainment content directly to broadband high-definition TVs and Blu-ray players. The deal is expected to close within the next few weeks.
VUDU is a revolutionary service, built into a growing number of broadband-ready TVs and Blu-ray players, that delivers instant access to thousands of movies and TV shows directly through the television. Customers with broadband Internet access and an Internet-ready TV or Blu-ray player can rent or purchase movies, typically in high-definition, without needing a connected computer or cable/satellite service. New movies and features will be added continually, enabling customers to enjoy a product that continues to become more robust long after they have left the store.
"The real winner here is the customer," said Eduardo Castro-Wright, vice chairman for Walmart. "Combining VUDU's unique digital technology and service with Walmart's retail expertise and scale will provide customers with unprecedented access to home entertainment options as they migrate to a digital environment."
VUDU has licensing agreements with almost every major movie studio and dozens of independent and international distributors to offer approximately 16,000 movies, including the largest 1080p library of video on-demand movies available anywhere. Via their broadband Internet connection, users have the ability to rent or buy titles and begin viewing them instantly.
VUDU will continue developing entertainment and information delivery solutions such as VUDU Apps, a platform that delivers hundreds of streaming Internet applications and services to TVs and Blu-ray players with built-in Internet connectivity. VUDU has partnered with some of the leading names in Internet and media entertainment to offer applications on its platform including Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, The New York Times and The Associated Press.