Walmart might be preparing to launch a subscription video on demand (SVOD) adjunct to its Vudu streaming movie service that will rival services Netflix, Amazon and Hulu, a report on Variety said Thursday.

The discount-store giant has plans to launch the service in the fourth quarter through its Vudu subsidiary, bringing a reportedly low-cost SVOD package offering licensed TV shows, movies and original productions, according to Variety.

Another site, The Information, further reported that early plans target an $8 per month subscription fee.

So far, Vudu isn’t commenting on the reports, but the biggest motivation for the move would seem to be keeping up with Amazon’s Prime Instant Video service, which charges customers a $119 annual fee, equating to roughly $9.92 per month.

The Variety report hedged that the reported Q4 launch date might be tentative and/or the plan could still be scrapped altogether, but the retail behemoth was known to be toying with the idea of moving into an SVOD strategy as early as 2017.

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Walmart acquired Vudu in 2010, and has since been used as a key streaming source for the Ultra Violet multi-format movie retail and digital service, that enables purchasing a title on Blu-ray or Ultra HD Blu-ray disc and unlocking an online digital version for streaming or download on mobile devices, smart TVs and other devices.

That service, and Vudu’s involvement, have begun to shift to the Movies Anywhere content locker service managed in a partnership that includes Disney, Warner Bros. and others.

Vudu was also one of the first streaming services to support content carrying the Dolby Vision  HDR profile with dynamic metadata. It has also recently added select content with the baseline HDR10 profile. Today the Vudu app is supported on smart TVs from most major manufacturers and brands, as well as on streaming media adapters and video game consoles.

In general, the service has a relatively robust collection of 4K Ultra HD movies and television programs.

Despite this, Vudu has had difficulty keeping up in digital movie and television sales with services like Apple’s iTunes and GooglePlay Movies.

Vudu currently offers for sale approximately 150,000 movie and television program titles to buy or rent. It also provides a more limited selection of free ad-supported movies and TV shows to stream, called Movies On Us.

That free component was recently challenged by Roku’s new Roku Channel, offering selections of ad-supported movies to watch online for free.


By Greg Tarr


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