Services & Software

Walmart's Vudu dips a toe into streaming films for free

The digital rent-or-buy shop launches an option to watch about 1,000 titles online without having to pay, including movies like "True Grit."

Vudu has limited options for streaming movies free with ads, but the catalog includes 2003's "School of Rock."
Paramount Pictures

Vudu is picking up where Hulu left off, sort of.

Vudu, Walmart's online store for buying and renting digital movies, launched on Tuesday a limited selection that viewers can stream free with advertising, no payment necessary. Called "Vudu Movies on Us," it has about a thousand titles from Vudu's total library of 100,000. Vudu will play several 30-second commercials before the video plays and will break into the stream several times with more ads before the film ends.

There isn't much rhyme or reason to what's available, but don't go there looking for new releases. Options include Best Picture Oscar nominee "True Grit," "School of Rock," and Jennifer Lawrence launch pad "Winter's Bone."

Other companies have already trod this territory, including one that abandoned it. Hulu had a free, ad-supported tier for watching mostly television and some movies, until it announced in August that it would do away with free in favor of paid viewing only. Crackle, a streaming service run by Sony, combines original shows like Jerry Seinfeld's "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee" with a wide library of traditional movies and TV shows that are in the rerun stage of life, also all free with commercials.

Vudu pitched the expansion as a way to find a new way for customers to save money. "Nothing is more affordable than free," Jeremy Verba, vice president and general manager of Vudu, said in a statement.