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Walmart may be parting ways with Vudu, the on-demand video service that never quite made a dent in the streaming wars.
Nearly a decade after acquiring Vudu, Walmart may end its relationship with the service, The Information reports. The big box retailer may not see room to compete in an increasingly crowded streaming space that includes Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu, along with newcomers Apple TV+, Disney+, and HBO Max.
This would be a major pivot for Walmart, as the company had been licensing catalog content and ordering original series for Vudu in hopes of putting up a good fight in the space. In October 2018, Walmart announced its plan to provide “family-friendly, advertiser-friendly content” on Vudu. The service started off as a space to rent digital TV and movies, but in recent years expanded to include an ad-supported free service.
Some of the original content being rolled out on Vudu included a Mr. Mom reboot, a Blues Clues reboot, and a Queen Latifah travel show, none of which made much of an impact in the media news cycle.
The Information also reports that Walmart believes it “would have to invest substantially” to continue to fight in the streaming wars. Disney+ will effectively shut other services out of the “family-friendly” lane when it launches in two weeks, and Walmart is likely right that competing would require massive cash flow.
In 2010, Vudu’s business model of per-episode and per-film rental and purchase felt viable, but in the age of library-based streaming services, it feels like a tough sell. Walmart now seems to be asking the question to which potential customers haven’t found a good answer: “Who is Vudu for?”
Walmart has neither officially confirmed nor denied a potential Vudu sale. The Daily Dot has reached out for additional comment.
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Brenden Gallagher is a politics reporter and cultural commentator. His work has been published by Motherboard, Complex, and VH1. He’s the co-founder of Beer Money Films, an indie production company. Based in Los Angeles, he works in television drama as a writers assistant.