Walmart Acquires Vudu but Will Porn Survive?

Feb 23, 2010 6:00 AM PST

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Retail giant Walmart announced yesterday that it is acquiring Santa Clara, Calif-based streaming movie company Vudu, Inc.

Vudu will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Walmart.

A company press release stated, “VUDU has licensing agreements with almost every major movie studio and dozens of independent and international distributors to offer approximately 16,000 movies, including the largest 1080p library of video on-demand movies available anywhere. Via their broadband Internet connection, users have the ability to rent or buy titles and begin viewing them instantly.”

But the release doesn’t mention Vudu’s relationship with the AVN Channel – where the company boasts it supplies hundreds of streaming titles - some in hi-def - from leading adult studios including Wicked, Hustler, Vivid, Digital Sin and more.

Will the family-friendly Walmart shut out porn once the deal is done?

When asked if Walmart might pull the plug on adult, Hustler President Michael Klein said it was hard to say what Walmart will do. “We have our content on Vudu and we hope that it will remain there but Walmart doesn’t offer adult DVDs and it’s an unknown whether they will support it with IPTV. Adult is obviously a money maker but Walmart doesn’t always do things just to make money,” he said.

Klein said neither Walmart nor Vudu had contacted Hustler at post time.

It is too early to speculate, but Walmart’s press release is heavily weighted toward the IPTV experience and is touting home viewing – a mainstay of adult – as a key to its decision to acquire Vudu.

The company said, “VUDU is a revolutionary service, built into a growing number of broadband-ready TVs and Blu-ray players, that delivers instant access to thousands of movies and TV shows directly through the television. Customers with broadband Internet access and an Internet-ready TV or Blu-ray player can rent or purchase movies, typically in high-definition, without needing a connected computer or cable/satellite service. New movies and features will be added continually, enabling customers to enjoy a product that continues to become more robust long after they have left the store.”

"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."

Walmart said that VUDU will continue developing entertainment and information delivery solutions such as VUDU Apps for TVs and Blu-ray players with built-in Internet connectivity.

"We are excited about the opportunity to take our company's vision to the next level," said Edward Lichty, VUDU executive vice president. "VUDU's services and Apps platform will give Walmart a powerful new vehicle to offer customers the content they want in a way that expands the frontier of quality, value and convenience."

But will that vision continue to support porn? Maybe, if the price is right. XBIZ will continue to follow this story as it develops.

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