Vudu—the Walmart-owned streaming service that comprises TVOD (transactional video on demand) as well as AVOD (ad-supported video on demand)—is focused on having something for everyone.
Countless free and paid titles have long been available on the platform, and they’re now being buffeted by original content, from scripted shows and movies spanning genres to unscripted reality and travel shows. With four audience-driven categories—Early Childhood, Kids & Family, Content for Co-Viewing, and Parents Programming—Vudu’s content offering has something for everyone in the family.
In Early Childhood programming, Vudu is partnering with Nickelodeon to launch the latest iteration of Blue’s Clues, titled Blue’s Clues and You. The groundbreaking preschool series will be available on Vudu before its appearance on Nickelodeon in November. Vudu is also partnering with Walmart stores and developing a number of exclusive new original programs for early childhood audiences.
When it comes to Kids & Family, Vudu is making an original movie, Adventure Force 5—drawing from the hit toy line—about a group of tech-savvy kids banding together to defend their small town from an evil genius and his robot-alien hybrids.
Content for Co-Viewing is headlined by Mr. Mom, a continuation story that jumps off of the original John Hughes movie, appropriately updated for 2019 and led by a female director. (The original film’s vision of stay-at-home parenting in 1983 predictably feels a bit outdated.) The first season is out now, and has garnered a consensus that it’s a delightfully comedic and warm story of a modern family.
For Parents Programming, Vudu is leaning on star power, enlisting Queen Latifah and Randy Jackson, to create Friends in Strange Places and Turning Point with Randy Jackson, respectively. The former is a travel show with Queen Latifah and her comedian friends traveling across the US, and unearthing new experiences, while the latter is a show where Randy Jackson follows the creative journey of some of the best creative minds in America.
In line with the goal of doing TV better than anyone else, Vudu is expanding innovation in the space by partnering with Eko. Eko is an interactive storytelling format, letting your choices impact what’s happening on screen—like a choose-your-own-adventure book, but it’s video.
When announcing these new titles and innovations at NewFronts, Julian Franco, the head of AVOD at Vudu, said, “we’re focusing on all of our customers.” For Walmart, which boasts that 95% of Americans shopped there last year, it’s clear that “all customers” means there’s a lot of audiences to reach—audiences they’re targeting with the aforementioned four categories of original programming.
Julian went on to quip, “that means we’re not going to be programming for Silver Lake or Williamsburg… while those are great places, and we have plenty of customers in those areas, there are a lot of services out there who are already programming for those audiences, and doing a great job. Instead, we’re going to focus on the handful of cities in between.” Here, to the laughter of the crowd, a map on the screen behind him zoomed out to display the vast area between the highlighted areas of Silver Lake and Williamsburg. “There’s a big blank space in between New York City and LA, and we believe that’s our sweet spot.”
Vudu is promising an endless aisle, not dissimilar to what Walmart itself promises, and it’s looking like it’s delivering on that promise in original content, which isn’t even to mention their massive collection of titles available to rent, buy, or watch for free.
Vudu’s Head of Ad Sales, Ben Simon, said at Vudu’s NewFront that they’re working to provide more solutions for advertisers, “from branded content collections to product integrations in Vudu’s original content.” Brands can now be integrated into the original content, by appearing in the series themselves, and not just relying on Vudu’s shoppable ads—plus, brand-sponsored shows are reportedly in development at the moment, and that only broadens the possibility of effectively telling brand stories within the Vudu ecosystem (and beyond, with the addition of Vudu Audience Extension allowing connectivity to other platforms).
Vudu boasts that they do retail-connected and family-friendly TV better than anyone else; based on these announcements, that seems to be the case.