Wal-Mart confirmed that it’s buying Vudu, the online video pay-per-view service.
The move puts the retail giant on the cutting edge of the streaming video space, where it’ll compete with Amazon’s Video on Demand and the iTunes Store.
Wal-Mart also could choose to challenge Netflix, with its “free” Watch Instantly service, which comes with the standard snail-mail DVD rental packages.
Vudu streams its high definition content in 1080p, using the kind of state of the art equipment that few would associate with the Arkansas-based big boxer. Vudu’s customers can buy or rent the video titles.
Vudu’s on-demand service is built in high-definition TV sets and Blu-ray players from home electronics hardware makers such as Toshiba, Samsung, Sanyo, Sharp, Vizio and Mitsubishi.
BetaNews points out that Vudu is the only major streaming service to serve up adult content, via its deal with the AVN network. Wal-Mart, known for pulling CDs with dubious cover art, no doubt will take a hard look at that.
Update: Wal-Mart wasted no time in cleaning up the streets of Vudu. “After Dark” subscribers told told almost immediately that the adult movie services was being axed. The naughty vids were supposed to stop flowing within days, according to the email sent to the premium pervs.
The Vudu buyout, which had been anticipated, is expected to close in a few weeks, Wal-mart said. The price could be as high as $100 million, industry wags say — a ton of money for a small player in the relatively small online video industry. The asking price reportedly was $50 million.
Meanwhile, the Times reported that the iTunes Store is experimenting with renting network TV shows for 99 cents instead of the current $1.99 (for standard def).
And MediaMemo followed up on the move to monetize Hulu (at viewers’ expense) with speculation that its online video offerings could be available on the iPad only via subscription.