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Sony Partners With Vudu to Offer Bonus Features

23 Oct, 2013 By: Chris Tribbey

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (SPHE) is partnering with Walmart’s VOD service, Vudu, to offer bonuses and interactive features for select films. Dubbed Vudu Extras+, the UltraViolet-enabled service aims to improve the ownership value proposition for consumers, and Sony Pictures is hoping other studios and retailers adopt the model.

“Sony Pictures has always been at the forefront of creating innovative technologies to enhance the consumer home entertainment experience both in the physical as well as the digital spaces,” said SPHE president David Bishop. “Vudu Extras+ will bring the extras experience which consumers have come to expect from discs to digital retailers more consistently and with increased interactivity.

“Strategically, Vudu Extras+ will enhance the value proposition of digital ownership, which is so key to the future success and strength of the home entertainment industry. Our intention is that it will evolve it into an industry standard for use across multiple studios and services.”

The service launches with Vudu Extras+ available for Sony Pictures’ District 9, with This Is the End, After Earth, White House Down, Grown Ups 2, Mortal Instruments, Smurfs 2 and One Direction: This Is Us the next titles to get the bonus features offering by the end of the year. Vudu Extras+ currently works on PC and Mac platforms, with additional platforms supported soon.

Richard Berger, SVP of global digital strategy and operations for SPHE, said bonus features for the most part will match those consumers found on disc, “but mainly what we’re trying to do is optimize the experience for the platform.”

SPHE is also migrating its scene search feature from its Movie Touch iPad concept (which launched in late November 2012) to Vudu Extras+, using metadata to offer information on every scene in a film, making them searchable by viewers.

“You can search on anything in the dialogue, you can search on an actor, objects, anything like that, and it will jump you right to those scenes,” Berger said.

“From the very beginning, when we started this project with Vudu, of course we wanted to work with a great partner, but we also wanted to create something that could become a standard for the industry,” Berger said. “We’re working with other studios, we’re talking with other retailers, and the idea is to bring this experience to a lot of different platforms. We designed it from the very beginning to be easy to incorporate into the retailer experience.”

Features offered on titles vary from deleted scenes, to trivia, to featurettes, to the social-media embedded “clip and share” feature. The bonus features are also available for preview before a consumer purchases the movie. Vudu users who already own the movies with Vudu Extras+ will have access to the bonuses free of charge.

“Sony Pictures Home Entertainment and Vudu developed Vudu Extras+ with the movie fan in mind,” said Amit Balan, head of marketing and merchandising for Vudu. “We wanted to give fans new ways to interact with the digital movies they own. The launch of Vudu Extras+ is an exciting innovation that enhances the way people watch and enjoy movies.”

Sony Pictures is also looking into going back into its deep catalog and offering more titles with the Vudu bonuses, Berger said.

“The big theme here is we’re trying to increase the value of ownership for the consumer, and obviously we feel very strongly that the UltraViolet piece is a really great reason for people to collect, because it offers more freedom and choice,” he said. “By layering in this type of feature, we raise the bar regarding what the consumer gets when they own the movie. We think this is something consumers are really going to love, and the way we went about this with Vudu sets the stage for us to take this much broader in scale.”

The District 9 features can be accessed via Vudu.com/extrasplus/District9.

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