Retail giant Walmart has acquired online video startup Vudu, giving it the chance to sell TVs with an instant home entertainment setup.
A person close to the deal said Walmart paid more than $100 million for the three-year-old Silicon Valley, the New York Times reported. Best Buy, Amazon.com, Comcast and EchoStar had also expressed interest in Vudu.
Vudu’s technology can be built into net-connected TVs and Blu-ray players to deliver streaming video apps and other content. It has a library of 16,000 movies and licensing agreements with most major movie studios, as well as partners such as Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, New York Times and Associated Press.
Walmart is joining a busy segment, with Microsoft, Sony, Amazon, Netflix and Blockbuster all offering online movie stores for net-connected HDTVs, Blu-ray players or video game consoles.
Currently it is a small market – fewer than 5% of the HDTVs sold in the US last year supported internet access. Walmart’s entry into the business will help change that.