A couple of days ago it was announced that Fandango was buying Vudu from Walmart. If you follow the chain of ownership Fandango is majority owned by Comcast at 70%, but it’s also owned by AT&T at 30%, which could make this even weirder as HBO Max is launching next month.
For those that don’t follow the flow charts of ownership, I’ll break it down for you.
AT&T owns Warner Media, who owns HBO and are behind the launch of HBO Max coming in in May. The company has 30% of stock in Fandango.
Comcast has NBC Universal (Universal Studios too) and has the Peacock streaming service coming out in July. They also have the controlling interest in Fandango at 70%, and soon, the controlling interest in Vudu.
Now that we established who owned what we can look at how Vudu could play into Comcast moving forward.
Most people feel that Fandango and Vudu aren’t that important in the streaming wars, but that could change. FandangoNow and Vudu both offer access to new movies and now theatrical releases going straight to home rental instead of the box office.
Where previously companies were pushing back their release dates and waiting until summer in an effort to save movie theaters, if theaters are still down or are at limited capacity come mid-summer, it is possible that more movies could got straight to home rental. In fact, (Comcast)Universal has already done this with a few of their titles like Trolls World Tour, Invisible Man and Emma.
What could be gained from Vudu?
AT&T recently missed Q1 estimates and according to Deadline “WarnerMedia is “rethinking our theatrical model” in light of COVID-19, AT&T COO John Stankey said on the telecom and media giant’s first-quarter earnings call.” He doesn’t feel that theaters are going to bounce back quickly enough and VUDU teamed with Fandango could offer them partial ownership of Movie goer platforms.
The same would go for Comcast, the ownership stake in Vudu would give them another established avenue to release movies an a potential streaming platform in addition to their upcoming Peacock service. The parts are there, Comcast and AT&T could take it beyond what it currently is and it would give Comcast access to a larger pool or properties outside of NBC/Universal. It would make it harder for companies to simply pull their content from Vudu if customers already purchased the movies or shows.
Overall it’s an interesting move. These companies were all focused on streaming services that no one really stopped to look at what could be gained with Vudu.
I look forward to seeing where this goes.
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