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Fandango will buy Vudu, Walmart’s movies-on-demand service

Fandango is buying Vudu, Walmart’s video on-demand service.
(Fandango)

Fandango isn’t selling movie tickets right now, due to the coronavirus crisis that has closed the nation’s cinemas. But the NBCUniversal-owned company is in a buying mood as it looks to sell users more movies online.

Los Angeles-based Fandango has signed an agreement to acquire Vudu, the video-on-demand service owned by Walmart, a spokeswoman confirmed Monday.

Financial details were not disclosed. The company declined to comment further.

Fandango, run by President Paul Yanover, plans to use Vudu to increase its presence in the growing digital entertainment space. The company already has a service called FandangoNow, which lets users buy and rent films, similar to Apple’s iTunes and Google Play.

Vudu announced the deal in a blog post addressed to users. The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based firm said its service would continue to exist after the sale, which is expected to close in the next several months.

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“While there will be many more exciting things to share in the months ahead, nothing about the Vudu experience is changing — your movie & TV library is safe, and you will continue to have access to all your Vudu apps across your favorite devices,” the company said in the post.

“Vudu will continue to deliver an amazing experience, and we promise that the future will bring more new features, offerings, and other benefits as we join the Fandango family,” Vudu said.

The deal comes as Fandango’s parent company, Comcast Corp.-owned NBCUniversal, is increasingly experimenting with early video-on-demand releases for its theatrical movies during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Universal Pictures on April 10 released “Trolls World Tour” on digital platforms, charging customers $20 to rent the DreamWorks Animation movie. Universal did not say how much money the release generated in sales, but said the results exceeded the company’s expectations.

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“Trolls World Tour” is the top-selling movie on FandangoNow for the second weekend in a row, the company said Monday.

NBCUniversal is also rolling out its new streaming service, Peacock, which is looking to stand out in an increasingly crowded landscape of direct-to-consumer outlets. The media giant will make the low-cost Peacock service widely available on July 15. Last week, it offered a preview to customers of parent company Comcast.

Peacock, featuring NBC-owned shows such as “Parks and Recreation” and “Law & Order,” will compete with a burgeoning group of new services such as Disney+, Apple TV+ and Quibi.

Fandango has worked to grow its brand in recent years from a mere ticketseller to a more all-encompassing service for film fans. In 2016, it bought the influential film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. Burbank-based studio Warner Bros., a subsidiary of AT&T Inc., owns a minority stake in Fandango.

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Walmart, the Bentonville, Ark., retail giant, acquired Vudu in 2010 as the once-booming DVD business declined.

Vudu was founded in 2004 and faced early struggles with a business model of selling internet-connected set-top boxes that allowed users to purchase digital movies. In 2008, Vudu began turning away from hardware by striking deals to integrate its software into devices from other companies.

Times staff writer Wendy Lee contributed to this report.


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