Vudu tries plan B, offers 1080p streaming on LG TVs

Vudu had a great run. The company made boxes you set up near your TV that could download stream HD video without glitches, a sort of Netflix On Demand, as it were, without the popularity.

Well, Vudu is teaming up with LG to offer Vudu streaming in their new LH50 and PS80 TVs which puts their position as one of the better and more promising hardware providers and video streaming services in serious doubt.

When we reviewed the Vudu box back in 2007 we found it to be amazingly intuitive with a great UI. Fast forward to today and we find it to be considerably overshadowed by everything else that can stream video – HD and SD – including the XBox 360, a cheap little box from Roku, and the PS3. In short, Vudu was first to the party but the cool kids got all the attention when they rolled in drunk at midnight.

Standard definition movies cost 99 cents to $3.99 to rent while HD movies cost $3.99 to $5.99. There is not contract. The box itself now costs $149, down from a high of $399, and features 2000 HD movies.

Maybe I’m cynical but when a streaming service with little brand awareness outside of the geek world becomes just another logo on a box (“This LG TV is Vudu-ready!”) you’re nearing the end of the line. Netflix can do it because they’re Netflix. Blockbuster might be able to do it because they’re Blockbuster. But Vudu was a blip on most radars at best. Sure it streams at 1080p, sure it has some good content including Pr()N, and sure it was a great idea in 2007. 2009? Not so much.

VUDU’s Streaming Movie Service Transforms HDTVs into Movie-On-Demand Video Stores

VUDU Launches Unparalleled New Movie Streaming Service For Next Generation Smart TVs

Santa Clara, CA – July 29, 2009, VUDU Inc., a leading provider of on-demand Internet entertainment services today announced its second-generation service platform specifically optimized for Internet capable smart TVs.

“Smart TV’s are part of an exciting new industry trend. VUDU is partnering with leading consumer electronics vendors to embed the new VUDU service directly into the TV, eliminating the expense and hassle of purchasing, installing, or connecting another device to the TV”, said Alain Rossmann, CEO of VUDU.

The new VUDU service delivers a compelling environment for consumers to discover and watch high definition 1080p movies on-demand. The company is also announcing that industry leader LG Electronics will ship new HDTVs that include the new VUDU service.

VUDU customers can instantly buy or rent from the largest library of on-demand high definition movies – including the newest releases from all major Hollywood studios, with no monthly fees. The VUDU’s service uniquely delivers movies in true 1080p high definition and high resolution Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 surround sound, setting the industry standard for on-demand HD movies.

“Internet-delivered video to the TV, sans box, is the Holy Grail for what the TV industry today calls ‘over-the-top’ providers, “said Jimmy Schaeffler, Chairman and CSO of The Carmel Group. “I believe VUDU’s widely acknowledged excellence in video quality and user experience is likely to be a key driver for customer adoption of this next generation of smart devices in the living room.”  

“With our second generation platform we are pushing the envelope even further by delivering for the first time features such as instant fast forward and rewind, instant start for all movie qualities including HDX, and an even faster and more refined user interface” said Alain Rossmann, CEO of VUDU.

Key VUDU Features:
Instant viewing experience: unlike typical Internet and on-demand video streaming, VUDU movies start immediately, and viewers can fast forward, rewind and browse chapters without the delays or the frustration associated with buffering.
Highest quality on-demand experience: VUDU’s unique HDX format delivers true 1080p resolution, TruFilm picture enhancements, and high resolution Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 surround sound
No monthly fees: customers can instantly buy or rent from VUDU’s extensive library of standard and high definition movie and TV titles.
Largest HD library anywhere: over 2,000 titles are available in HD or HDX format.
New releases: Newly released titles from all major studios are available day and date with the DVD release, months before they are typically available on subscription-based services.

The new VUDU Service for smart TVs will make its debut on LG Electronics’ upcoming models of Broadband TVs [later this fall – subject to completion of availability language by LG in the LG release].