Tuesday Walmart officially entered the video streaming market by opening the doors to its long-awaited digital video service, powered by VUDU. Walmart purchased the Silicon Valley startup early last year in hopes to compete with Netflix, Amazon, Google, iTunes and other online movie rental services. Terms of the acquisition weren't provided, but the purchase was estimated to be over $100 million.
According to Walmart, customers can now shop for thousands of digital VUDU titles – including new releases – and purchase and/or rent them directly on Walmart.com at www.walmart.com/vudu. Video playback will require one of 300 VUDU-enabled devices including HDTVs, Blue-ray Disc players and the PlayStation 3 console. Consumers can also stream video to their desktop or laptop although playback quality will be locked to Standard Definition (SD).
"At Walmart, one of our key priorities is to provide a continuous channel for our customers, from our stores to our powerful e-commerce and social media platforms," said Steve Nave, SVP and general manager, Walmart.com. "With VUDU becoming increasingly popular among our customers, we’re providing them more access to enjoy this digital entertainment experience directly online at Walmart.com."
When customers shop for movies or TV episodes at Walmart.com, they now have the option to select the digital VUDU title and/or the physical title (DVD or Blu-ray Disc). Those who select the digital title complete their transaction through Walmart.com’s checkout, and then can stream the movie directly from Walmart.com, VUDU.com, or a VUDU-enabled device.
Walmart couldn't have launched its streaming service at a better time, as last week Netflix announced that it was essentially raising the price of its rental service 60-percent, splitting video streaming and DVD rentals into two separate plans of $7.99 each. Long-standing customers lashed out at the company, many of which threatened to -- or actually followed through with -- canceling their account.
But unlike Netflix, Walmart won't offer monthly plans. Twenty-four hour rentals will span in price from $0.99 to $5.99, depending on the quality and current promotion. As an example, Battle: Los Angeles costs $3.99 to rent the SD version, $4.99 for the HD version (720p), and $5.99 for the HDX version (1080p). Digital movie purchases typically cost up to $14.99 for standard versions. All digital rental versions become available the same day DVD versions are released. Some titles are even $2 for two nights.
"This integration allows us to introduce more Walmart.com customers to digital entertainment and give them access to thousands of new release and popular movie titles immediately through VUDU’s high-quality streaming service," said Edward Lichty, general manager, VUDU. "By incorporating digital movie content into the Walmart.com entertainment shopping experience, we’re enabling customers to easily choose how they want to enjoy their entertainment content – whether that be through a physical DVD, digital streaming or both."
VUDU offers 20,000 titles spanning across the theater and TV including Rango, Tron Legacy, Walking Dead, House, Being Human and loads more.