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Vudu said this morning that its content would soon be available — sans set-top box — directly on select models of LG televisions. At the same time, Vudu unveiled its second-generation service platform for net-connected televisions, which means more deals such as the one with LG are likely to follow. Perhaps it’s time to take a moment, bow our heads and mark this as the day the Vudu hardware died.
The new Vudu service will debut next month on LG Broadband TVs and according to the press release will feature:
- Instant start viewing with no buffering, and movies can be fast-forwarded or rewound with no buffering delays
- 1080p resolution with Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 surround sound
- Access to new release movies, available day and date with the DVD release
- More than 2,000 titles available in HD or the company’s HDX format
Of course, this also means that LG TVs are getting a direct porn channel, thanks to the adult content available through Vudu. A Vudu rep said that the naughty bits will be available with parental controls for those who want it. What’s unclear is whether Vudu Labs will make the move directly to the TVs. Launched late last year, Vudu opened up its platform to include web video from Brightcove and YouTube (s GOOG), as well as web services like Flickr (s YHOO).
Though the company is still selling its Vudu-branded set-top box, it’s clear that business is all but dead. After price drops and layoffs, Vudu just wasn’t finding traction with its own set-top box. The company already had box-less delivery deals with Entone and Vizio, and in its press release CEO Alain Rossmann said, “VUDU is partnering with leading consumer electronics vendors to embed the new VUDU service directly into the TV, eliminating the expense and hassle of purchasing, installing, or connecting another device to the TV.” Guess you can’t build a business on expensive hassles.
But just because Vudu is ditching its set-top box doesn’t mean that it’s smooth sailing from here on out. Vudu faces heavy competition from Netflix (s NFLX) and Amazon VOD (s AMZN), both of which are available on a number of net-connected TVs and devices. Vudu may offer higher-quality video, but that won’t matter as much to consumers who already have a relationship with Netflix and Amazon and are primarily concerned with convenience. Maybe Netflix should buy Vudu and re-brand it as “Netflix Prime,” using it to offer new releases on an individual rental basis.