VUDU took a step towards challenging other streaming services as it expands its line up of TV shows. Up to this point, the lack of TV series has been the biggest content hole for VUDU. When we recently looked at streaming services, the Hub liked VUDU since it offered the best audio and video quality in the marketplace. On their blog today, VUDU stated:
“Over the coming weeks and months, our TV offerings will continue to grow. New TV shows will be added frequently, so keep coming back to see what’s new.” -VUDU blog 5/3/2011
In particular, VUDU added the following shows: Bones, Glee, Gossip Girl, Modern Family, Nurse Jackie, The Walking Dead and Weeds (I’ve heard conflicting reports that Weeds may disappear from Netflix this summer.)
|VUDU’s new TV shows|
There are two things that differentiate VUDU in the streaming space. One, its has the best audio and video available from a streaming service. Unlike Netflix, the VUDU interface and its capabilities are the same on every device. Second, most movies are available at the same time as the DVD release. However, the way these TV shows are being offered does not play to any of VUDU’s strengths.
At least half of the new TV content is only being offered in standard definition (SD). Only the Walking Dead, Nurse Jackie and the newer seasons of Weeds are offered in HD. Most of the existing TV shows (which were few) such as 24 and Firefly are only offered in SD as well. People appreciate the difference of watching shows like 24 and Firefly in HD. When Jack Bauer escapes yet another enveloping explosion, you need surround sound and high definition video to truly experience how ridiculous it is.
The other problem is price. The full season of the Walking Dead costs $16.99 on VUDU while it’s only $15.99 on iTunes and $13.99 on Amazon Instant. The price discrepancy is more pronounced with Glee. Amazon is offering the full season in SD at $21.78 whereas both VUDU and iTunes cost $39.99. So, it doesn’t appear that VUDU is going to win on price for a season pass.
What’s even stranger is that you cannot buy an individual TV show on VUDU. You have to purchase the entire season. The convenience factor of being able to catch up on a couple of missed shows is a missed opportunity for VUDU. It’s an opportunity that Amazon and iTunes thrive on. Hopefully, VUDU will change this soon.
While it’s great to see that VUDU is expanding their content offerings, it’s not enough to win the streaming TV market. VUDU needs to offer some form of an all-you-can-watch plan like Netflix or find some other way to stand out from the crowd. Given VUDU is owned by Walmart, wouldn’t you expect low prices? Stay Tuned!
Update: It appears you can buy individual episodes now. Don’t know if I just missed it given the layout of the UI or they just added it today. Regardless, the highest quality episodes are $2.99 each (HDX 1080P), HD (720P) is $2.49 and SD is $1.99. The HD quality is equivalent to what Amazon and iTunes offer but they both charge 50 cents more or $2.99 per episode. Alternatively, you can rent on iTunes for 99 cents in HD.
The $2.99 for an episode in HDX quality is a differentiator from the other services. You’re getting 1080P versus 720P as the same price as a purchased episode on Amazon or iTunes. Thanks Walmart!