NBCU’s Ticketing and VOD Service Fandango Acquires Walmart-Owned Vudu

Acquisition will bolster the company's ad-supported streaming assets

Fandango and Vudu
There will be no immediate changes to either service during the acquisition, the companies said. Fandango, Vudu

Key insight:

NBCUniversal’s ticketing and video-on-demand company Fandango has agreed to acquire streaming service Vudu, the companies announced today, the latest in a string of such acquisitions as the adoption of streaming accelerates.

There will be no immediate changes to either service, the companies said in a blog post. Vudu will also continue operating Walmart’s digital movie and TV store on Walmart.com.

The deal, terms of which were not disclosed, will significantly bolster the ad-supported streaming assets at Fandango, which is primarily a ticketing service that earns a percentage of the tickets it sells online. Since 2016, Fandango has also been in the video-on-demand business with the transactional video on demand (TVOD) service FandangoNow, which allows customers to rent and buy videos to watch digitally. (Fandango also owns entertainment and ratings sites like Movies.com and Rotten Tomatoes.)

Vudu, which is owned by Walmart, also offers a TVOD tier similar to FandangoNow’s, but has since operated free ad-supported streaming business since 2016. The company had recently waded into the original programming space with a reboot of the sitcom Mr. Mom, and had expressed ambitions to test out shoppable ad formats and other ads leveraging Walmart’s data on shoppers.

Fandango bought Vudu primarily to help the company scale up its TVOD business, a Fandango spokesperson told Adweek.

The acquisition comes amid a moment of growth for TVOD services, which are seeing a major boost amid the ongoing pandemic that has shuttered theaters and significantly increased demand for in-home entertainment. It also marks the latest ad-supported streaming service to be scooped up this year, another indication of the media business’s growing interest in free, ad-supported streaming television amid a maturing streaming market.

The free, ad-supported streaming service Tubi was acquired by Fox Corp. in March, bolstering the media company’s streaming and tech capabilities. A month earlier, NBCUniversal parent company Comcast acquired the ad-supported streamer Xumo.

NBCUniversal is buying Vudu as the company readies its own ad-supported streamer, Peacock, for a national July debut following last week’s soft launch. Peacock will include both ad-supported and ad-free tiers; the company said last week that it was evaluating moving up the service’s launch as Americans around the country remain housebound amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

It’s unclear if, or how, those various streaming services under the Comcast umbrella—Peacock, Fandango Now, Xumo and now Vudu—will operate together.

@kelseymsutton kelsey.sutton@adweek.com Kelsey Sutton is the streaming editor at Adweek, where she covers the business of streaming television.