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Walmart is taking over the top online video company Vudu

Walmart is set to acquire the popular online movie service company Vudu. According to the New York Times, the retail giant said Monday that it had agreed to buy Vudu. Ultimately, the rumor came true. In January, there was a rumor of the acquisition of Vudu by Walmart. Financial details are not available right now. Walmart confirmed in a press release also about the acquisition.

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Vudu has alliances with CE makers like Mitsubishi, Sanyo, Sharp, Toshiba, LG, Vizio etc. Previously, Vudu (in early 2007) required its own separate box. But the product was unable to gain traction despite a retail partnership with Best Buy. Vudu eventually shifted to providing an embeddable platform for CE makers, and finally stopped selling its set-top box this month.

Fast forward to 2010, and the picture looks decidedly different. Connected TVs are set to go mainstream, and Vudu has deals in place that will put its software on TVs or Blu-ray players from seven of the top nine device manufacturers. It’s unclear what the acquisition will mean for these deals, but one could imagine that Wal-Mart would be interested in running Vudu as an independent unit for the time being, if only for the fact that retail competitors like Best Buy might shy away from selling TVs with Wal-Mart branded software.

According to The New York Times:

The terms of the acquisition were not disclosed, but a person briefed on the deal said the price for the company, which raised $60 million in venture capital, was over $100 million. Other companies including Best Buy, Amazon.com, Comcast and the satellite company Echostar also expressed interest in acquiring Vudu, this person said. Wal-Mart and Vudu began informing Hollywood studios and television manufacturers of the deal on Monday.

This is an interesting move for a couple of reasons. For one, as we said last month, it puts Walmart head-to-head with the likes of Netflix and Amazon. But also, Walmart is a huge retailer of televisions –- it has the ability to drive sales of Internet-connected TVs with Vudu on board. NYT speculates that one day this might enable Walmart to move further into the delivery of content and merchandise to consumers via television.

Walmart says:

Walmart announced today a definitive agreement to acquire VUDU, Inc., a leading provider of digital technologies and services that enable the delivery of entertainment content directly to broadband high-definition TVs and Blu-ray players. The deal is expected to close within the next few weeks.

“The real winner here is the customer,” said Eduardo Castro-Wright, vice chairman for Walmart. “Combining VUDU’s unique digital technology and service with Walmart’s retail expertise and scale will provide customers with unprecedented access to home entertainment options as they migrate to a digital environment.”

Here’s the full press release.

They also note that Vudu will continue to develop its app platform, which already includes Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, The New York Times and The Associated Press.

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Source: The New York Times, Mashable, New TeeVee

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