Vudu is thinking outside the box--literally. The company's 14,000-plus movie library will soon be available on Entone set-top boxes and DVRs. A software upgrade on the Entone units will effectively add the entire functionality of the Vudu BX100, including on-demand access to HD and HDX movies.
While you may not have heard of Entone, the company supplies set-top hardware to smaller regional telephone-company-video providers. Many of those providers may have lackluster (or nonexistent) video-on-demand offerings, so Vudu's library--which includes about 1,500 high-definition movies as well--offers a worthwhile added value to consumers.
For Vudu, the deal represents the first time the company's content will be available on third-party hardware. Vudu has cut the price of its entry-level box to just $149, but having its pay-per-view content available to a much wider audience--including TV viewers who don't need to invest in any new up-front hardware purchases--is the first step for the company to transition from a box manufacturer to a service provider. Like Netflix, Amazon Video-on-Demand, or Rhapsody, Vudu could start showing as a supported feature in the increasingly long list of network-enabled consumer electronics--everything from TVs and Blu-ray players to home theater systems and game consoles.
Compatible Entone set-top boxes are scheduled to get the Vudu upgrade sometime this summer. A representative for Entone said that it should include the entire gamut of features available on the existing Vudu hardware, including the Vudu Labs features that include access to YouTube and Flickr.