Walmart announced today a definitive agreement to acquire VUDU, Inc., a 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.
The VUDU service is built into a growing number of broadband-ready TVs and Blu-ray players, that delivers instant access to 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.
"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.
Wal-Mart's purchase of Vudu puts the company in potential competition with video rental company Netflix, which streams movies over the Internet, and Amazon, the online retail titan which also offers an online movie service.
VUDU said that it would continue developing entertainment and information delivery solutions such as VUDU Apps, a platform that delivers 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.
"We are excited about the opportunity to take our company's vision to the next level," said Edward Lichty, VUDU executive vice president. "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."
VUDU, based in Santa Clara, Calif., will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Walmart. The did not company disclose financial terms of the agreement as the acquisition is not material to its first quarter earnings for fiscal year 2011.