Walmart is reportedly considering a sale of its digital video platform Vudu, according to a report at The Information. With Disney+, Apple+, and HBO Max launching over the next six months, the digital marketplace is in a state of flux, and the service, which originally launched in 2004, is struggling relative to streaming services like Netflix and Hulu that launched around the same time. Vudu has been relatively hardy over the last few years, enjoying the benefits of having ties to Walmart as similar services like Ultraviolet and Flixster either folded entirely or removed their video-purchase options to focus on other services.
Walmart is reportedly considering the sale because, according to the report, they have decided that in order to be a major force in a competitive marketplace, they would have to make a significant investment in the platform. The company purchased Vudu in 2010 for around $100 million, and has since integrated Vudu with an "InstaWatch" program that allows users to scan Walmart receipts and be rewarded with immediate Vudu copies of participating DVDs and Blu-rays. Some physical media titles sold exclusively at Walmart are only available digitally using the InstaWatch feature.
When Vudu launched, digital purchases were a bigger part of the overall digital picture; once Netflix became a dominant factor in the market, streaming video platforms that allow for flat-rate rentals have taken off, leaving most traditional rental/retail sites in the dust just as they have brick-and-mortar video stores.
If the report is to be believed, Walmart's recent push toward creating original content for Vudu -- including the Mr. Mom series and digital exclusivity on the Blues Clues reboot -- might be aimed at raising the value of the platform in order to make a sale more attractive. There is no clue just yet what Walmart might be looking for to sell the service, with the rationale behind the sale being less about making or losing money and more about the fact that Vudu isn't a major part of the retailer's business strategy, so spending potentially tens or hundreds of millions of dollars to remain relevant didn't
“Over the last nine years, we’ve built Vudu into an incredibly strong and growing business with an installed base of more than 100 million devices across America,” a Walmart spokesman wrote The Information. “We’re constantly having and [are] open to conversations with new and existing partners to explore opportunities for continued growth; however, we never share details of those discussions.”
Per industry trade Media Play News, Vudu is one of eight retail partners in the Movies Anywhere library collection service. The others are iTunes, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, Microsoft Movies & TV, FandangoNow, Xfinity and Verizon, which just joined the service about a month ago.