Streaming-video service Vudu will soon be a service of the world's largest retailer, Wal-Mart confirmed late Monday.
Wal-Mart has agreed to buy Vudu for an undisclosed sum, and the deal is
expected to close within the next few weeks. The New York Times first reported the story Monday morning when the two companies began to tell their TV manufacturing and film studio partners that the deal was set to go.
Vudu has a catalog of 16,000 video titles that can be downloaded to several different brands of TVs and Blu-ray players, either as a rental or purchase. Wal-Mart Vice Chairman Eduardo Castro-Wright said of the service in a prepared statement Monday, "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."
Owning Vudu would give Wal-Mart a piece of a high-margin business rather than hardware retail, but it also helps them competitively. Buying Vudu's streaming online video service will catch Wal-Mart up with Best Buy, which started offering its own streaming-video servicein conjunction with Cinema Now last year. Best Buy's video service is planned to eventually be available on every Internet-capable device that is sold in its stores.
Vudu first came on the gadget scene in 2007 as a separate set-top box that could download movies for a subscription fee directly to the home. A year later the company reshuffled its executive lineup and soon ditched the box idea.
Instead, the company began supplying its streaming-video software directly to other hardware makers as the popularity of Web-connected TVs, Blu-ray players, and video game consoles began to rise.
Every major TV manufacturer now has a Web-connected TV set, which use widgets to stream content from companies like Vudu, Amazon Video on Demand, Blockbuster, Netflix, Twitter, Facebook, Pandora, as well as weather and news updates.
This post was updated at 2:30 p.m. PST with Wal-Mart's confirmation of the deal.