This week Walmart made news by purchasing VUDU, a video on demand service that allows users to rent and purchase more than 16,000 movies through an Internet connected Blu-Ray player or Web enabled HDTV.
The purchase is a win for Walmart, which needs to compensate for falling DVD sales, but an even bigger win for consumers who will benefit from Walmart's vested interest in the success of streaming video services.
Thanks to this purchase it is very likely that consumers will see cheaper Web enabled HDTVs and Blu-Ray players at Walmart and if we are lucky, gain a powerful player to put a stop to the 28-day rental delay that Netflix and RedBox face.
Unlike Netflix streaming, VUDU provides full 1080P streaming and surround sound to bring consumers the viewing experience they have come to expect from Blu-Ray discs.
VUDU also has a an upper hand on cable companies because the rental prices range from $1 to $7, based on the age and quality of the movie selected. The average rental price is $3.95 and users have the option of purchasing a movie for $19.95. No word yet from Walmart regarding the continued availability of the Adult Video Channel on VUDU, which is out of place in Walmart's portfolio.
Movies are currently available on VUDU the same day they are released on DVD, which could give it an edge over Redbox and Netflix, which are delaying the rental of some new releases 28 days at the bequest of movie studios. Hopefully, Walmart can flex its muscle and demand that VUDU users have instant access to movies and put a stop to the practice of delaying new release rentals.
VUDU is already available on Blu-Ray players from LG and Mitsubishi, neither of which are available on Walmart.com, but will soon expand to other players from Samsung, Sanyo, Sharp, Toshiba and Vizio later this year; many of which will likely show up on Walmart's shelves.
In addition to movies, these Internet connected Blu-Ray players will provide consumers with access to BD-Live bonus features and bring apps to your HDTV at a lower cost than web enabled HDTVs, which are gaining popularity. Apps already available, or in the works, include Facebook, Flickr, Twitter the New York Times and an Associated Press app.
"VUDU's services and Apps platform will give Walmart a powerful new vehicle to offer customers the content they want in a way that expands the frontier of quality, value and convenience." said Edward Lichty, VUDU executive vice president, describing the benefit to consumers in the press release announcing the purchase.
Normally, Walmart purchasing another company wouldn't bring a smile to my face; but Walmart's purchase of VUDU is a big win for consumers, especially those who enjoy HD video on demand and Internet connected entertainment. Walmart now has a vested interest in providing consumers with low priced access to its VUDU service, which means that we will soon see selection and lower prices on Internet connected Blu-Ray players and web enabled HDTVs.
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