Wal-Mart often finds itself on these pages not only for its deals but for the fair amount of comedy its stores provide us, but this next item could be big. According to The New York Times, the company has indeed agreed to purchase Vudu -- giving it a leg up on digital distribution and helping to brace against a declining market for DVDs. Details are scarce, but apparently the two companies have been informing Hollywood studios and TV manufacturers about the plan all day -- so an official announcement can't be too far off. Let's just hope this goes a little better than the Wal-Mart MP3 sales have, eh?

Update: It's official, and the full press release is after the break. Walmart will be acquiring Vudu, and the deal is expected to close "within the next few weeks." We are told that Vudu will "continue developing entertainment and information delivery solutions such as Vudu Apps," but outside of that, few details (including a purchase price) are being made available.
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Walmart Announces Acquisition of Digital Entertainment Provider, VUDU

Company takes next step to enhance home entertainment and information delivery options for consumers

BENTONVILLE, Ark., Feb. 22, 2010 -- Walmart announced today a definitive agreement to acquire VUDU, Inc., a leading provider of digital technologies and services that enable the delivery of entertainment content directly to broadband high-definition TVs and Blu-ray players. The deal is expected to close within the next few weeks.

VUDU is a revolutionary service, built into a growing number of broadband-ready TVs and Blu-ray players, that delivers instant access to thousands of movies and TV shows directly through the television. Customers with broadband Internet access and an Internet-ready TV or Blu-ray player can rent or purchase movies, typically in high-definition, without needing a connected computer or cable/satellite service. New movies and features will be added continually, enabling customers to enjoy a product that continues to become more robust long after they have left the store.

"The real winner here is the customer," said Eduardo Castro-Wright, vice chairman for Walmart. "Combining VUDU's unique digital technology and service with Walmart's retail expertise and scale will provide customers with unprecedented access to home entertainment options as they migrate to a digital environment."

VUDU has licensing agreements with almost every major movie studio and dozens of independent and international distributors to offer approximately 16,000 movies, including the largest 1080p library of video on-demand movies available anywhere. Via their broadband Internet connection, users have the ability to rent or buy titles and begin viewing them instantly.

VUDU will continue developing entertainment and information delivery solutions such as VUDU Apps, a platform that delivers hundreds of streaming Internet applications and services to TVs and Blu-ray players with built-in Internet connectivity. VUDU has partnered with some of the leading names in Internet and media entertainment to offer applications on its platform including Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, The New York Times and The Associated Press.

"We are excited about the opportunity to take our company's vision to the next level," said Edward Lichty, VUDU executive vice president. "VUDU's services and Apps platform will give Walmart a powerful new vehicle to offer customers the content they want in a way that expands the frontier of quality, value and convenience."

VUDU, based in Santa Clara, Calif., will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Walmart. The company is not disclosing financial terms of the agreement as the acquisition is not material to its first quarter earnings for fiscal year 2011.

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Wal-Mart buying Vudu streaming movie service? (update: yes!)