If you’re a frequent Walmart.com shopper, you may have stumbled across the on-demand streaming service Vudu while browsing for purchases.
Vudu, which is owned by Walmart, offers some of the most sought after new releases in the movie and television world for purchase or rent. But you may be surprised to know it also touts more than 10,000 movies and TV episodes free of charge. This content is available for free due to the inclusion of advertisements.
Everything to Know About Vudu
With subscription-style services as popular as ever, it is interesting to see Walmart (Vudu) and Amazon (IMDb TV) increasing their free content libraries and investing in original content for their free services.
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Given that Team Clark always likes a free entertainment option, we decided to take a deeper look at the Vudu streaming options.
I tested the service on the Android phone app, Roku streaming device and website. This review will highlight some of my experiences on each.
Though Vudu charges for much of its content, the review is focused on the portion of the service that is free. If you decide to try out Vudu, be advised that you’ll come across quite a bit of “pay” content. The free content is clearly labeled in its own section.
This review is one of many we conducted as a part of our free streaming TV series. You can learn more about our strategies for getting free streaming TV here:
What Is Vudu?
Vudu is an on-demand streaming service that was acquired by Walmart in 2010. Though the retail giant originally positioned the service as an “online locker” for movies and TV shows purchased or rented through the platform, it now also boasts a collection of free content. The free content consists of more than 10,000 movies and TV episodes that have advertisements intermittently inserted into the viewing experience.
For the purposes of this review, we will be focused solely on the free streaming portion of Vudu.
How to Watch Vudu
The free content on Vudu can be consumed through most internet-connected devices, but first you have to create an account for the service.
Sign Up Process
Though the content we are seeking is free, Vudu still requires that you create a username and password to use the service. After all, this content likely is seen as a strategic gateway to potential purchases for other products.
You can sign up through your Walmart.com account, so if you already do online shopping with Walmart you may already have access to Vudu. Signing up using your Facebook account also is an option.
Be advised that the next step of the signup process will ask for your credit card information. This is optional. Since we’re only using the free content portion of this site, we can safely skip that prompt and still enjoy the free streaming catalog.
If you’re apprehensive about signing up, Vudu will allow you to browse the catalog of free content without becoming a member of the site.
Devices and Apps
There are other ways to access the service, including streaming device apps and directly through your web browser:
- Vizio, Samsung and LG Smart TVs
- PlayStation, XBox and Nvidia gaming consoles
- Roku, Google Chromecast and Tivo streaming devices
- Android and Apple iOS phones and tablets
- Windows and Mac operating computers
- Sony, Samsung and LG Blu-ray players
- Amazon Fire TV
- Xfinity devices
Vudu’s complete list of compatible devices can be found here.
Content Available to Stream on Vudu
At the time this article was written, Vudu was touting more than 10,000 movies and TV episodes that qualified as free content. A search of the free movies catalog turned up more than 8,200 options. The free television catalog has more than 862 seasons of TV series. Vudu also is working on new original content.
There are some big Hollywood stars attached to movies in the free streaming portion of Vudu. However, as you may have guessed, there are not many titles that we’d consider “new releases” in this section. Those are reserved for rental or purchase with Vudu. Instead, the free movie menu has a selection of films that are a bit older. Some may already be found on traditional cable television stations.
Content available for free streaming changes often. Here’s a look at some of the movies available for free at the time of this writing:
- Fifty Shades of Grey
- Clerks II
- Pumping Iron
- Night of the Living Dead
- The Homesman
- The Choice
Titles such as No Country for Old Men, Final Destination, Seven, Jerry Maguire and Hancock have been free on the platform in the past.
Popular TV Series
The free section of Vudu’s TV offering touts 633 seasons of television series. Much like the movie selection, the more recognizable titles are a bit dated. There are some recognizable and still-relevant children’s options like Thomas the Tank Engine.
Here’s a sampling of the TV series available for streaming:
- 3rd Rock from the Sun
- Hell’s Kitchen
- Grounded for Life
- Grace Under Fire
- Thomas and Friends
- Sonic X
- Doc Martin
- Transformers (Animated)
- Big Comfy Couch
Shows such as Roseanne, The Addams Family, Forensic Files and Blue’s Clues have been available for free streaming on the platform in the past.
In September 2019, Vudu debuted an original streaming series called Mr. Mom. It is based on the 1983 film of the same name.
Mr. Mom isn’t going to be the only original streaming content available on Vudu. A Variety report indicates that there are several new projects on the docket for future release.
However, it is unclear if these new releases will be available in the free portion of Vudu. It’s possible that you’d have to pay to see this new content.
User Experience for Vudu
Now that you have a better idea of the type of free content that is available on Vudu, let’s look at the user experience.
How Bad Are the Ads?
There’s a price to pay for free streaming, and it’s with your time and patience for paid advertising.
Vudu hits you with commercials before your content even starts, which I find less than ideal. If you are unsure about a series you’ve never seen before and want to test out a few minutes of the show before deciding to watch the whole episode, you’re already locked into a commercial break. That’s smart on Vudu’s part, but painful for the user. Using the Roku app, I routinely saw three 20-second commercials before my programming even started.
I charted a random episode of Roseanne — which is one of the service’s more popular free TV series — to see what the user experience is like. Here’s a quick breakdown of the advertisements:
TV Episode Ad Breakdown
|Time of Episode||Type of Advertisement|
|0:00||3 20-second commercials|
|3:44||3 15-second commercials|
|9:18||3 20-second commercials|
|14:29||2 20-second commercials and 1 30-second commercial|
Four breaks seem like a lot for a show that has a run-time of under 22 minutes, but I guess that depends on your perspective. At just under four minutes of commercials, the episode took approximately 26 minutes to watch from beginning to end. That’s still better than your typical 30 minute television time slot.
On more than one occasion, I encountered an interactive advertisement that gave me pricing on the item it was trying to sell and a way to click a link for more information or to purchase. That may be useful to some users, but others may consider it intrusive.
Repetitiveness was another issue with the ads. The same group of five or six advertisements inevitably appeared in heavy rotation during most of my commercial breaks.
Vudu does a really nice job of sectioning off its ad-based free content from the content that it is selling or renting. To find yourself on the free content via mobile app, you’ll want to click the triple-lined menu bar at the top left corner of the screen and select “Free.” From Roku app or web, the free option is right there on the homepage.
Once you’re in the free section, Vudu makes it pretty easy to sort through movies and TV series separately. I found it handy that you can toggle between “Most Watched” and “Release Date” options to quickly see what is popular and what is new. Utilizing the filters allows you to apply genre constraints to those options as well:
When you click on a piece of content from the menu, Vudu offers you a good amount of information on the product prior to viewing, which is nice. For example, take a look at this preview card on Scooby-Doo: The Movie. It offers a Rotten Tomatoes rating, Vudu users rating, viewing age suggestion, a preview trailer and more.
Tips for Enjoying Vudu
Has some of the available content caught your attention? Here are some tips for enjoying it on Vudu:
- Grab Your Snacks Early: Given the predictability of the advertisements prior to the beginning of the content, you have a built-in opportunity to ignore the first set of commercials while getting yourself prepared to watch the show. Use it to your advantage.
- Utilize Kids Mode: If you have children in your life, it probably is worthwhile to utilize this function. Vudu offers the ability to set up pin codes and block certain types of content that may not be age-appropriate for your entire household.
- Connect Your Walmart.com Account: If you already have an account through Walmart.com, it will be a bit of a time-saver to simply login with that. Also, there are sometimes perks from purchases made on Walmart.com that could net you additional free or discounted content on your Vudu account.
Final Thoughts on Vudu
Still trying to decide whether or not you should add Vudu to your streaming portfolio? Here are some pros and cons to think over:
Vudu: Pros and Cons
|Easy to navigate “Free” section||Advertisements prior to content starting|
|Child protection options||Dated TV series options|
|Growing list of original content||Repetitive commercials|
The free content from Vudu is decent, but it clearly wants to steer you to the paid content on the service. And from a content library perspective, Vudu is not nearly as good as that available on rival services like Tubi TV or IMDb TV.
The original content efforts are where Vudu could separate itself from the competition in the free on-demand video streaming service market. With no real cost barrier to testing Vudu out, it is worth a try as a subscription streaming alternative.
Do you have experience watching the free version of the Vudu streaming service? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!