Vudu Launches New Features, Content for Family-Friendly Entertainment

Seeking to separate itself from the transactional and ad-supported VOD field, Walmart-owned streaming service Vudu Sept. 12 announced it would offer software that enables users to control and customize their entertainment viewing experience to better meet the needs of their families and their values.

In a blog post, Scott Blanksteen,VP of Vudu, said he’d been hearing from users about better monitoring content available on the site.

“They’ve told us they’re concerned about what their families can browse, purchase and watch,” Blanksteen wrote.

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Starting today, Vudu users can access several new features to help them make “informed decisions” about movie and TV show appropriateness, as well as control and customize the content they want to watch, including:

Dubbed “Family Play,” the software lets users skip or mute objectionable content, including substance abuse, language, violence, sex, and nudity, based on their own preferences.

The feature is available on over 500 eligible major studio titles (both free and paid content). Additional titles will be made available each week.

Through a partnership with Common Sense Media, users will now be able to gauge if a film or TV show is appropriate for the little ones in their homes.

When browsing Vudu’s library, users will find detailed information on thousands of titles, including a parental review and the minimum age recommended by Common Sense Media as appropriate to watch the content, providing a trusted guide for families.

In addition, “Kids Mode” give parents the ability to provide a safe watching experience for their kids. This feature, incorporating data from Common Sense Media, lets viewers limit what kids can browse or view to only content appropriate to the child’s age. Kids Mode is available on both free titles and rented or purchased titles in a customer’s library.

“These features are fully under the control of our viewers, to ensure that each customer can make their own choices about what is appropriate for their family,” Blanksteen wrote. “That’s something we’re really proud of.”

Separately, Vudu is bowing original content, “Mr. Mom” and “Blue’s Clues & You!”

“Mr. Mom,” which premiered Sept. 12  is a 11-episode modern continuation of the classic ’80s film and stars Hayes MacArthur (Super Troopers 2, Angie Tribeca) as a dad who decides it’s his turn to stay at home with the kids when his wife, played by Andrea Anders (Instant Family, Joey), re-enters the workforce.

Viewers can tune in for new episodes every Thursday through Oct. 10 to see how the Anderson family proves that family is a full-time job.

And on Sept. 27, Vudu will exclusively debut three episodes of Nickelodeon’s “Blue’s Clues & You!,” a remake of the ground-breaking preschool series, ahead of its premiere on Nickelodeon in November.

“‘Mr. Mom’ and ‘Blue’s Clues & You!’ are the first of many original and exclusive entertainment programs that Vudu viewers will be able to enjoy,” Blanksteen wrote.

 

Vudu Inks Deal for MGM Original Programming

Walmart-owned Vudu.com reportedly signed a deal with MGM Studios for original content to be made available on the transactional VOD platform’s ad-supported “Movies on Us” service.

The deal includes exclusive North American access to original episodic series based on MGM intellectual property.

“We feel it will be a great source of family-friendly, advertiser-friendly content – which won’t be viewable anywhere else,” Scott Blanksteen, Vudu’s VP of product and ad-supported VOD, told Variety, which first reported the deal.

While media reports have suggested Walmart is dipping its toes into subscription video-on-demand distribution, Blanksteen said the MGM deal is not about SVOD, but rather ad-supported OTT video.

“I wouldn’t rule that out for the future, but there are no concrete plans or discussions for that now,” he said.

Launched in 2016, “Movies on Us” features a catalog of more than 7,000 catalog TV shows and movies free (with a Vudu account) to stream with commercials. Content providers include Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros., Lionsgate, MGM and Anchor Bay Entertainment.

The platform mirrors a growing number of ad-supported OTT video services such as The Roku Channel, Shout! Factory TV and Sony Crackle.

Vudu, which offers more than 180,000 studio movies to buy and rent, is also testing targeted advertising and direct-to-consumer ecommerce.

With Walmart actively promoting ecommerce in an attempt to better compete with Amazon, Vudu is testing direct shopping links as well as product information requests.

“Walmart tends to be a crawl-walk-run company,” Blanksteen said. “We feel like we are driving in the direction of building a great, on-demand network.”