Walmart Is in Talks to Sell Vudu to NBCUniversal
The Vudu Inc. application is displayed on an Apple Inc. iPhone in Washington, D.C., U.S. (Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

Walmart Is in Talks to Sell Vudu to NBCUniversal

(Bloomberg) -- Walmart Inc. is in talks to sell Vudu to Comcast Corp.’s NBCUniversal, which could use the online-video platform to bolster its soon-to-launch Peacock service, according to a person familiar with the situation.

The discussions haven’t yet led to an agreement, according to the person, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private. Walmart declined to discuss the details of any talks, but said it was “constantly having conversations with partners.” NBCUniversal declined to comment.

“We’ve built Vudu into an incredibly strong business, with an install base of
more than 100 million devices across America,” the retailer said in an emailed statement.

With media giants beefing up their streaming operations, a number of smaller online-video platforms are seen as takeover targets.

Fox Corp. is discussing a deal to acquire the streaming service Tubi, an ad-supported platform that shows reruns and movies, the Wall Street Journal said on Friday. The newspaper also reported earlier on the Vudu talks.

Fox declined to comment, while Tubi didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The potential deals would follow Viacom Inc.’s acquisition of Pluto TV for $340 million last year. That service, a competitor to Tubi, is now part of a portfolio of streaming services that the just-merged ViacomCBS Inc. is building.

Walmart acquired Vudu in 2010, an attempt to cope with a shift away from DVDs. But the retailer has struggled to turn the service into its own version of Amazon.com Inc.’s Video Prime -- despite it being available on millions of TVs and other devices.

NBCUniversal, meanwhile, is about to challenge Netflix Inc. head-on in the streaming industry and may need reinforcements. The company is launching Peacock on April 15 and plans to offer three tiers of service: a free option supported by ads, another version with more programming for $4.99, and a level with no ads that costs $9.99.

The idea is to hedge an expensive foray into streaming by relying on advertising revenue -- something Netflix and others have avoided.

Peacock is entering an increasingly crowded field. AT&T Inc. is launching a service called HBO Max in May, and the short-form video platform Quibi rolls out in April.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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