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Fandango isn't selling many movie tickets as the coronavirus pandemic has shuttered theaters. Now the Beverly Hills-based ticketing company with a streaming arm is growing its streaming footprint by acquiring Vudu, the video-on demand service owned by Walmart.
The deal allows Fandango to further branch out beyond selling tickets to live events amid wide speculation that movie theater chains, which pay Fandango's bills, may be teetering toward bankruptcy as box offices freeze.
Fandango did not release details about the transaction. The company may merge Vudu with its FandangoNow on-demand movie rental business that operates similarly to Apple's iTunes. Doing so would strengthen its competitive position against Amazon and Apple in the Transactional Video On-Demand (TVOD) space.
And Vudu's user base is likely to perceive value in the additional Fandango services. Viewed from that angle, it makes sense that Fandango, which is owned by NBCUniversal, is acquiring Vudu on the heels of NBCU's soft launch last week of Peacock, a primarily advertising-based video on-demand (AVOD) service.
Walmart Inc. acquired Vudu in 2010 with hopes that it would be a hit among its now 265 million weekly retail and e-commerce customers. But with the streaming world increasingly dominated by Netflix and crowded with other services, the Bentonville, Ark.-based company had been shopping Vudu around to potential buyers.
Vudu announced it was being acquired on its blog, calling its new owner "the ultimate digital network for all things movies & TV."
"While there will be many more exciting things to share in the months ahead, nothing about the Vudu experience is changing – your movie & TV library is safe, and you will continue to have access to all your Vudu apps across your favorite devices," the company wrote.
Financial details were not disclosed. The company declined to comment further.
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The owner of consumer rewards site Swagbucks bought the digital coupon-cutter company CouponCause Monday, expanding its e-commerce brands as it bulks up its consumer data and analysis business.
Parent company Prodege did not disclose terms of the deal on Monday but said it will absorb the Santa Monica-based company at its El Segundo headquarters where it keeps a live tracker of gift cards redeemed from around the world.
The move comes at a time of increased interest in the digital coupon space after PayPal paid $4 billion for Honey, another company that makes money by helping consumers earn rewards and find digital coupons. Companies like Honey, RetailMeNot and Prodege use the deals to capture valuable consumer information. Prodege also owns MyPoints, InboxDollars and MyGiftCardsPlus.
"The number of consumers who like value is limitless and we are satiating that appetite," said Prodege chief executive Chuck Davis, as he ticked off data points on the latest gift cards awarded— $25 at Applebees in Europe, $50 from Starbucks in Florida, another $25 from a Red Lobster in Florida — as they appeared on a screen in front of him.
The acquisition, which went into effect on Feb. 3, will help Prodege build a larger presence online — or as Davis puts it, "widen the vortex." Davis said the brands will eventually integrate. That will help feed the company's data and survey business, which already provides clients with insights on everything from customers' political preferences to their shopping habits.
Swagbucks works directly or indirectly with about 3,500 merchants, including names like Amazon and Walmart, he said.
And there's room for even more growth. In 2018, the company secured $130 million in debt financing that Davis, the former chief executive at Fandago and Shopzilla, said is intended for mergers and acquisitions. Last year, the company acquired CotterWeb Enterprises, Inc., which operates InboxDollars.com and SendEarnings.com.
With the most recent purchase behind them, Davis said Prodege is in "growth mode."