02.24.2010 09:50 AM
Walmart's Purchase of Vudu to affect HD Streaming

Walmart, the world's largest retailer, is going to try again to offer online content to its consumer electronics customers, only this time it has decided to go with a brand already somewhat known in the field. Its pending purchase of Vudu, which it confirmed this week, could provide Walmart with a big boost in the trend of both set makers and retailers like Best Buy offering HD television units and Blu-ray players with internal online connectivity.

Since a growing percentage of connected TV panels are HD, consumers will be counting on some of the available media content via the Internet to be offered in HD quality, according to iSuppli and other media consultancies. Walmart has been busy sprucing up its CE departments in most of its outlets for the past two years.

Vudu has been around for about three years, basically offering a lot of 1080p movie content, which has become increasingly available in 1080p TV sets and Blu-ray Disc products in the past year.

By acquiring Vudu, Walmart would be gaining access (and pretty much immediate credibility) through an already-established brand name in the emerging field of online-access entertainment — which enjoys a growing list of ready competitors such as Netflix, Blockbuster, Sonic Solutions, Microsoft, Sony and Amazon.com.

Assuming Vudu's content grows its HD inventory even further in the near future, its potential popularity could soon place both standard DVD and Blu-ray packaged content in jeopardy.

Meanwhile, iSuppli forecasts nearly two-thirds of HD homes in the U.S. will have online connectivity of some kind in their DTV sets within three years.

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