If you use Fandango for movie theater tickets, you may have stumbled across the on-demand streaming service Vudu while browsing for purchases.
Vudu is now a product of Fandango Media, which is (NBCUniversal and Warner Bros. Discovery’s joint venture). It 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 that you can watch free of charge. This content is available for free because — you guessed it — there are advertisements.
Everything To Know About Vudu
With subscription-style services as popular as ever, it is interesting to see the emergence of free content libraries and investments in original content for free services.
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ABOUT THIS REVIEW: Did someone say “free content”? Team Clark is always looking for ways to help you save more and spend less, so we decided to investigate the Vudu streaming service. For the purposes of this review, I used Vudu on my phone, tablet and streaming device and immersed myself in the content and user experience. I hope what I found will be helpful as you decide whether or not this service is right for you.
This review is one of many we conducted as part of our free streaming TV series. You can learn more about our strategies for getting free streaming TV below.
What Is Vudu?
Vudu is an on-demand streaming service that was acquired by Fandango Media in 2020. It previously was owned by retail giant Walmart (2010-2020).
Though the service was originally positioned as an “online locker” for movies and TV shows purchased or rented through Walmart, 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, I’ll focus 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.
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.
This is easiest to do on the website. You have to provide an email address and set up a password, but you may be able to forgo this process if you already have a FandangoNOW account. You still can sign up through your Walmart.com account, so if you shop with Walmart online, you may already have access to Vudu.
Be advised that the next step of the sign-up process will ask for your credit card information. This is optional. Since we’re testing only 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, know that 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
Vudu touts more than 10,000 movies and TV episodes as free content. A search of the free movies catalog turned up more than 8,200 options. The free television catalog has more than 850 seasons of TV series. Vudu says it’s also 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 as of May 2022:
- A Turtle’s Tale
- Alpha and Omega 2
- Beauty and the Beast
- The Founder
- The House on Pine Street
- What Just Happened
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
- Doc Martin
- Grounded for Life
- Hell’s Kitchen
- Unsolved Mysteries
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.
Though there were more impressive plans for original content for Vudu at one point in time, there are only two titles unique to the service to date.
There is a 12-episode TV series titled Mr. Mom that debuted in 2019 and an original film titled Adventure Force 5.
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 sitting through 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 to see what the user experience was 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 runtime 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.
On more than one occasion, I encountered an interactive advertisement that gave me pricing 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 log in 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|
|Options to rent or buy 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 Pluto TV.
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 our Clark.com community!