Wal-Mart invests in Vudu magic

Wal-Mart confirmed late Monday that it has entered into a deal to acquire online movie-on-demand service Vudu. It is the latest push from the global retail giant to expand into digital content.

Vudu is a movie-streaming service that comes built-in with some TV sets as well as Blu-ray players. Users can purchase or rent movies and begin watching immediately. The online start-up also offers its own set-top box to give users access to its library of thousands of titles, with new movies added day-and-date to corresponding DVD release dates.

Vudu claims to have the largest selection of 1080p movies-on-demand, and the service also offers content from Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, The New York Times, and The Associated Press. 

The Bentonville, Arkansas-based retailer may be a behemoth in the brick-and-mortar world, but it has struggled to make inroads in the digital industry. Wal-Mart’s music download service never really proved to be a threat to Amazon or iTunes, and its own proprietary video download service was shut down over two years ago.

“Vudu’s services and apps platform will give Walmart a powerful new vehicle to offer customers the content they want,” said Vudu’s executive VP Edward Lichty. Wal-Mart added in a statement, “The real winner here is the customer.”

Despite the new backing from the largest retail chain in the world, Vudu will still need to compete against the digital video side of Amazon and iTunes, as well as similar services on the Xbox 360 and PS3, and the vastly-expanding instant streaming service from Netflix.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.