What do you do when you’re a business that derives most of its earning from movie ticket sales, now that the movie theater business has been mothballed for the foreseeable future? If you’re Fandango, the answer is you buy Vudu, a movie streaming service with millions of potential viewers, from its current owner, Walmart.
The cost of the Vudu acquisition has not been released, but we do know a fair bit about Vudu itself. Unlike subscription streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, or even Disney+, which offer an all-you-can-eat model for a monthly fee, Vudu is a movie rental business that has quietly grown over the years into an impressive streaming platform. It reaches more than 100 million living room devices across the U.S and its mobile app has been downloaded over 14.5 million times, according to TechCrunch.
It has supported 4K, Dolby Vision, and Dolby Atmos since 2015, making it one of the first platforms to do so, a move it followed up in 2017 by adding support for HDR10. As a movie purchase and rental service, Vudu belongs to the Movies Anywhere platform, which gives folks cloud-based access to all of the digital movies they own. It also has an impressive collection of ad-supported free movie rentals that you can stream, with titles like Batman Begins and The Cabin In The Woods.
Fandango already owns FandangoNow, a purchase and rental service it acquired under the name M-Go. On the surface, Vudu and FandangoNow appear to be very similar, but FandangoNow lacks Vudu’s ad-supported collection which will be helpful to expand its reach into new households.
Vudu will continue to power Walmart’s digital movie and TV store on Walmart.com and existing Vudu customers won’t see any changes to their ability to access their purchased movies. Walmart logins and the Walmart wallet will continue to work on Vudu, TechCrunch notes.
Fandango is best known for its movie ticket purchasing service, a line of business that has obviously been severely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, officially known as COVID-19. The purchase of Vudu is both an expansion of its existing online movie rental business as well as a hedge against what might be a long-term turndown in the movie business. After all, even after theaters resume their normal operations, the pandemic has also affected the studios that create the movies, which adds even greater instability to an already uncertain outlook.