×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Walmart’s Vudu Launches Free Movie, TV Service With Thousands of Titles

Vudu, which has been selling and renting HD movies and TV shows online for nearly a decade, is now offering free, ad-supported access to several thousand premium titles — a move by the Walmart-owned service to boost revenue from older content.

The new service, Vudu Movies on Us, won’t include new releases or current TV series. Those will remain available only as premium-priced options. At launch, free movies include “Mad Max,” “True Grit,” “Abduction,” “School of Rock,” “Hoosiers,” “The Phantom of the Opera” (2004), “Young Adult,” “Margin Call,” “A Walk to Remember” and “The Magnificent Seven” (1960). Vudu says it will be adding more content in the coming months.

“There’s no better value than free,” said Jeremy Verba, VP and GM of Vudu. “We see a gap in the marketplace for watching free HD movies on-demand.”

With the retail giant’s push into premium ad-supported VOD, Vudu will compete for viewer attention and advertising budgets against AVOD players like Sony’s Crackle, AdRise’s TubiTV and Yahoo View (which has a licensing deal with Hulu to offer free shows), as well as the free, ad-supported services from networks like ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC.

Verba said Vudu considered developing a subscription VOD service, “but we felt the ad-supported model was where we should focus.” According to the company’s research, more than half of Walmart shoppers said they’re interested in watching free or discounted ad-supported video services.

More to the point: Competing against the likes of Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu would have required considerable investment on Walmart’s part to acquire exclusive, premium-grade content.

Vudu’s free streaming service, besides generating new ad dollars, will give it a funnel of potential new customers for its core transactional business offering more than 100,000 titles for rent or purchase. Ever since it launched in 2007, Vudu has focused on delivering high-end digital video tech and earlier this year became the first service to integrate 4K Ultra HD with Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos Audio.

The company will promote Vudu Movies on Us first to its several million registered users who have made a purchase on the service in the past. Verba said the AVOD service will then be marketed on Walmart.com and in Walmart stores, which receive 140 million visitors each week. “We have a great customer base built in we can promote this to,” said Verba.

The Vudu Movies on Us selections will stream in 1080p HD, with Dolby Digital sound available for some titles, and can be watched across dozens of smart TVs, Blu-ray players, and connected-TV devices including Roku, Google’s Chromecast and video-game consoles. Vudu also is accessible on the web and via apps for iOS and Android devices.

The free service — which is available only in the U.S., as is Vudu’s transactional storefront — will carry limited commercials, primarily pre-roll ads and some mid-roll spots, Verba said. TracFone Wireless and American Express are among the initial advertising partners, as well as local automotive dealerships whose ads will be targeted to viewers in designated market areas.

“This is a big opportunity for advertisers. Consumer viewing habits are changing,” Verba said. “Leading up to this launch, we were very, very focused on making this a great customer experience, and we’ll work with advertising partners to shape the service.”

Vudu’s main partner on the advertising sales and tech front is Ooyala, a New York-based online-video company owned by Australia’s Telstra. Vudu will work with Nielsen to track and report viewing of the free service on connected TVs and mobile at launch.

Founded in 2004, Vudu was acquired by Walmart in 2010. Today, Vudu has about 100 employees based in Sunnyvale, Calif., while the retailer’s Walmart.com and e-commerce teams are based in San Bruno.

Verba joined Vudu in mid-2014. He previously was CEO of online-dating site eHarmony, and has worked at Foundation Capital as an entrepreneur-in-residence, AOL and Zynga.

More Digital

  • Merlin Reports Record Distributions for 2019

    Merlin Reports Record Distributions for 2019

    Global indie-label collective Merlin reported record distributions in its 2019 membership report, paying $845 million to label and distributor members between April 2018 and March of this year. That figure, a 63% year-over-year increase, includes more than $130 million paid out this year from non-royalty income — and included in that figure is the estimated [...]

  • Sarah Iooss - Twitch

    Twitch Hires Sarah Iooss, Former Mic and Viacom Exec, as Head of North America Sales

    Twitch has tapped Sarah Iooss, most recently EVP of revenue at millennial-news startup Mic, to lead the advertising sales team in North America for the Amazon-owned live-streaming video platform focused on video gaming. Iooss will be based in New York, reporting to chief revenue officer Walker Jacobs, who joined Twitch last fall after serving as [...]

  • Calibra app

    Spotify: Facebook's Libra Cryptocurrency Will Help Subscription Services

    When Facebook officially announced its plans for a new cryptocurrency called Libra Tuesday, it also revealed that Spotify was part of a consortium of companies called the Libra Association that is backing the project. The music service hopes that digital money can help subscription services sign up new customers. “One challenge for Spotify and its [...]

  • And Then We Danced

    Swedish Outfit French Quarter Steps Into TV With Graphic Novel Adaptation

    Swedish production company French Quarter, the outfit behind Cannes Directors’ Fortnight entry “And Then We Danced,” is venturing into TV with a web series adapted from Henrik Bromander’s graphic novel “Kurs I självutplåning” (“Course in self-annihilation”). The comedy series has been commissioned by the Swedish broadcaster SVT, as first reported by Nordic Film & TV [...]

  • tivo logo

    Tivo Preps Series 7 'Tivo Edge' DVR Made by Arris

    Tivo is getting ready to introduce the next generation of its DVR, if a new FCC filing is any indication. The new device, which is being called the Tivo Edge, is once again being made by set-top-box manufacturer Arris. A Tivo spokesperson didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Arris’ FCC filing is heavily [...]

  • soulcycle image

    SoulCycle to Launch Station on SiriusXM, Bring Playlists to Pandora (EXCLUSIVE)

    SoulCycle devotees will soon be able to listen to their favorite spinning soundtrack all day: SiriusXM is getting a dedicated SoulCycle Radio station this summer, and the two companies will also bring playlists from select SoulCycle instructors to Pandora. SoulCycle Radio is said to feature music curated by SoulCycle instructors, as well as inspirational messages [...]

  • Jorge-Franco-and-Adrian-Suar

    Pol-ka Expands Outside Argentina, Optioning ‘El Cielo a Tiros’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    PAMPLONA, Spain  —  Taking a new expansive step as an international content player, top Argentine production house Pol-ka, has optioned small-screen rights to “El cielo a tiros,” the latest novel from “Rosario Tijeras” author, Colombian novelist Jorge Franco. Pacted via Scenic Rights, the deal sees Pol-ka planning to shoot a drama series based on the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content