Vizio’s Vudu Button Highlights Race to the Remote Control

Consumer electronics manufacturer Vizio is adding a Vudu button to remote controls for its connected TVs and Blu-ray players, adding one-click access to the video-on-demand service. The button provides easier navigation to an increasingly popular streaming service, but it also highlights the struggle video publishers face when they want to reach viewers on connected devices and differentiate their services in a rapidly growing ecosystem of TV apps.
Nearly a dozen new Vizio models will come with a remote control that features the Vudu button. Like the Netflix button announced earlier this year, clicking on the Vudu button will instantly launch the video streaming service. That will give users instant access to more than 20,000 titles for rental or purchase from the Vudu store.
Adding one-click access could end up increasing overall revenues for consumer electronics manufacturers, which are oftentimes seeking a share of purchases that happen on their connected TV platforms. The addition of a Vudu button also shows the kind of pull that parent corp Walmart (s WMT) has, especially as Vizio is one of the top-selling brands at the discount retailer. For Walmart, purchasing a digital video service that is embedded on the products it sells in stores is one way to create a virtuous cycle and boost overall media revenues. That’s especially important as DVD and physical media sales continue to decline.
But the race to add a button to the remote control shows how difficult it is for streaming services on connected TVs to get noticed. With its subscription streaming service available on more than 250 devices, Netflix is nearly ubiquitous in the connected device space. It also now has more than 23 million subscribers, so adding a button to the remote control makes total sense. But for other online video services, differentiating themselves can be a problem, especially when they’re grouped in with dozens — or perhaps hundreds — of other TV apps. The need for a better discovery system — not just for apps but for content as well — is one of the key issues facing publishers as they move their videos from online to over-the-top on connected TVs.