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Vudu Bows Ad-Supported Movies On Demand

18 Oct, 2016 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Walmart-owned Vudu.com Oct. 18 launched “Vudu Movies on Us," an ad-supported video-on-demand service that enables users to watch titles in 1080p resolution without paying for or renting them.

All “Movies On Us” titles stream with Dolby Digital sound when available, and across Android and iOS devices; Internet-enabled TV and Blu-ray Disc players, PlayStation, and streaming devices such as Roku and Google Chromecast.

"Vudu is always looking for new ways for customers to save money, and nothing is more affordable than free," Jeremy Verba, VP and GM of Vudu, said in a statement.

Indeed, Vudu has long marketed transactional VOD and digital sellthrough movies, the former from 99 cents to $5.99. The platform offers UltraViolet access to titles accessible via the Industry-backed cloud storage platform, in addition to content in 4K UHD and high dynamic range (HDR).

Content — largely catalog — includes movies True Grit, Mad Max, School of Rock, A Walk to Remember, Abduction and Escape From Planet Earth, in addition to sports and music documentaries, anime and animation.

Specifically, Vudu found from Deloitte research that consumers preferred ad-supported VOD to subscription-based streaming services — data supported by research from Hub Entertainment.

"This new service provides value for customers who want to watch movies and TV for free, when and how they wish to watch, without sacrificing quality,” Verba said.

At the same time, Walmart is not including “Movies on Us” with upstart $49 "Shipping Pass," an online initiative aimed at competing against the $99 Amazon Prime two-day free shipping membership program, which includes Prime Video.

Meanwhile, Vudu continues to struggle attracting wider market share. In a recent Digitalsmiths report, the TiVo-owned research firm found that just 2.1% of respondents used Vudu to buy or rent movies in the second quarter — a percentage unchanged since the previous-year quarter. At the same time, 16.3% of respondents used Amazon Instant Video, up from 15.4%.

Interestingly, the report found that use of transactional VOD service in general dipped nearly 2% compared with a year ago. Digitalsmiths found that the bulk (46.9%) of respondents who use transactional VOD spend $1 to $8 per month. Survey results did not show a positive growth trend for monthly spend, since those who spent $12 to $30 declined. 
The data is not lost upon Walmart.

“We’ll watch for opportunities carefully as we go along,” Verba said. “But for now it’s a standalone offering.”


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