updated 09:25 am EDT, Wed August 13, 2008
VUDU Movie Renewals
VUDU today set out to best Apple TV and other competitors in the networked media hub field with two features meant to draw in more movie viewers. The company is the first to offer digital movie renewals and will let customers pay a discounted price to either finish watching a movie or to watch it again; any customer that has already started playing a title can pay 99 cents (standard-definition) or $2 (HD) within a week of first playing the movie to watch it again, even if their normal playback time has already expired.
The move lets VUDU sidestep criticisms of its rental service as well as those of Apple and other similar stores, which often push customers to finish watching a movie within 24 hours of beginning playback. Renewals let parents or those with irregular schedules split a movie across multiple days, while avid viewers can also watch titles more frequently.
The device maker also plans to increase the competition for discounted movies themselves and is launching a "99 for 99" channel that includes nothing but discounted 99-cent movie rentals; the location simplifies finding bargains versus Apple's solution, which often discounts just one title per week on iTunes. VUDU promises to offer "blockbuster" titles and will regularly rotate movies through the channel to maintain interest.
Pricing for the rentals themselves hasn't changed and sits at up to $4 for a new standard-definition rental or $6 for an HD rental, which can climb up to 1080p and 5.1-channel surround sound. A 250GB VUDU Box sells for $300 while a 500GB VUDU XL is available only through home theater installers.