It has been rumored for over a month, and it looks like the rumors were true. Retail giant Wal-Mart is poised to acquire movie-streaming service, Vudu. This will give Wal-Mart the streaming infrastructure it has wanted, and it will give Vudu a massive scale that it has needed. Effectively, Vudu is pretty much out of the set-top box business, and now can be considered a software application in the same mindset as Netflix or iTunes. From a New York Times story on the deal:
Panasonic and Sony are the only major manufacturers that have not yet added the Vudu service to their devices. With Wal-Mart, one of their biggest retailers, taking it over, manufacturers will now have another reason to include Vudu.
Vudu competitors like Netflix, of course, are cutting similar deals with manufacturers, who are happy to build multiple services into their devices and make them more versatile.
Vudu has sought to distinguish itself from its rivals by bragging about its large catalog of high-definition movies, its simple user interface and its integration of other Internet services like Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and Pandora.
The Vudu deal could allow Wal-Mart to one day sell a variety of other merchandise through people’s televisions via the Vudu service. One person who has been briefed on Wal-Mart’s thinking said that the retailer would keep the Vudu brand.