Vdio, the video streaming service which launched into public beta this April as a complement to Rdio’s subscription music service, is today becoming available to all. Earlier, the service was available for preview in the U.S. and U.K., but only to those who were already paying Rdio Premium or Unlimited customers.
Today, however, anyone can sign up for the Vdio TV and movie streaming service (which is still only available in the U.S. and U.K.), even if they don’t use Rdio.
The video streaming service was originally part of Rdio founder’s Janus Friis’s vision, Rdio and Vdio (now outgoing) CEO Drew Larner explained to TechCrunch earlier this year. But it had taken some time for the company to secure the content deals that would allow it to compete in the competitive video streaming market more effectively – an area which is dominated by the likes of Netflix, Hulu, and now Amazon, among others.
Vdio includes content from Fox, Warner Brothers, Paramount, MGM, Sony, CBS, ABC, Disney and more, with a focus on offering new releases which users can either rent or purchase, in addition to other classics. It’s currently seeking rights from Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. and Time Warner’s HBO. After purchasing the content, users can then stream the movie or show on the web or the companion iPad application, which also supports AirPlay for streaming to Apple TV.
In addition, the service integrates with Facebook, allowing users to sign-up with their Facebook credentials, as well as see which of their Facebook and Twitter friends are using the service and what they’re watching. (Netflix has also recently added Facebook integration for a similar purpose).
With today’s public launch, users can rent or purchase videos immediately after sign-up, but the company has said that it plans to offer a subscription model in the future.
Vdio will eventually expand to the two dozen or so markets where Rdio operates, with the next one planned being Canada.
Though the app itself is well-designed and easy enough to use, the question now is how many subscription-based services (assuming Vdio goes that route, as they’ve said) can one tolerate paying for? Already Netflix and Amazon are battling for users by targeting families, while Hulu is striking deals and building up an original content collection of its own. Assuming you wanted to stream content from all three, you would start seeing monthly bills which, when combined, begin nearing the cost of cable TV. Most aren’t ready to cut the cord entirely, which means the market for streaming video today is still a luxury of sorts. That may change in time, but the challenge for startups like Vdio is to survive until that’s the case.