The terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. Fandango plans to maintain a Vudu office in the Sunnyvale, Calif., area and Fandango will be making job offers to the majority of Vudu employees.
Fandango has operated a competitor to Vudu in the transactional VOD space — FandangoNow, which is based on the digital-storefront biz it in 2016 from DreamWorks Animation and Technicolor.
NBCU is expected to merge the operations of Vudu and FandangoNow once the deal closes, but for now “there will be no immediate changes to either service,” according to the FAQ on Vudu’s site. Under the deal, Vudu will continue to provide the back-end infrastructure for the movie and TV sales and rentals on walmart.com.
Fandango’s core business is selling movie tickets — which, during the COVID-19 pandemic, has ground to a halt as theaters nationwide remain shuttered.
According to a statement on its website, Vudu said it “will continue to deliver an amazing experience; and we promise that the future will bring new exciting features, offerings, and other benefits.”
Vudu also said purchases that customers have made on the platform “will be safe on Vudu. You’ll continue to have access to them as always, across millions of devices.” Vudu currently offers over 10,000 titles for free, plus some 150,000 titles to rent or buy including new releases in 4K Ultra HD.
Word that NBCU was in talks to buy Vudu emerged earlier this year.
The acquisition of Vudu expands NBCU’s digital-video business as it preps the national launch in July of Peacock, a streaming service that will have a hybrid free and paid model. Comcast last week launched an “early preview” of Peacock, available to Xfinity X1 and Flex customers. Meanwhile, in February, Comcast acquired Xumo, a free, ad-supported streaming service owned by Panasonic and Meredith Corp.
According to Walmart, Vudu has an installed base of more than 100 million devices in the U.S. The retailer acquired Vudu in 2010 for a reported $100 million.
The Vudu division largely has maintained distinct operations from Walmart. Vudu is based in Sunnyvale, Calif., while the retailer’s Walmart.com and e-commerce teams are based in San Bruno (next to YouTube’s campus). Vudu has been headed by general manager Jeremy Verba, the former CEO of eHarmony who joined the company in 2014.
In 2016, Vudu began offering free, ad-supported library content to its service and more recently began delivering original shows on the free platform including a series reboot of ’80s comedy “Mr. Mom” and live-action kids’ sci-fi movie “Adventure Force 5.” Other Vudu originals in the works include a travel/comedy show executive produced by Queen Latifah; sci-fi series “Albedo” starring Evangeline Lilly; and an interview docu-series with Randy Jackson. Vudu ordered sports docuseries “Legacy” starring and executive produced by retired NBA All-Star Dwayne Wade that follows the progeny of top pro athletes (including Wade’s son, Zaire Wade).
With Fandango’s pending purchase of Vudu, it’s not clear whether Vudu’s original programming strategy — centered around family-friendly fare — will continue.
Founded in 2004 as a venture-backed startup, Vudu initially launched with its own set-top box that downloaded movies over the internet for local playback. In its early days, Vudu focused on delivering high-quality digital formats, including its own proprietary “HDX” format.