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Following a few short months in private beta and over a year in development, Vdio, the video streaming counterpart of music service Rdio is making its first public appearance. Initially, only Rdio Unlimited subscribers in the U.K. and the U.S. will have access to an early preview, along with a $25 credit to spend on movies and TV shows, but the service is expected to open up to everyone "later this summer."
As reported back in November, Vdio won't replicate the freemium all-you-can eat model behind Rdio, or even the subscription only model of Netflix. Instead, the company looks to be another iTunes competitor, offering the option to buy or rent movies and TV shows, but with a heavier emphasis on sharing and social discovery.
Pricing will be basically identical to iTunes and Amazon, with newly released movies going for roughly $5 to rent and $15 to own. Content from most of the major players will be available, including Fox, Warner Brothers, Paramount, MGM, CBS, ABC and Disney. Vdio CEO Drew Larner says they're at about 90% on content deals, with notable gaps like ABC in the UK as well as Sony and Lionsgate in the US.
They're also hoping to secure content from HBO, according to GigaOm, but the company isn't making any promises. The premium network, home to hugely popular shows like Game of Thrones, licenses some of its older content to third-party streaming services but keeps current-season episodes exclusive to its own HBO Go.
Vdio hopes it will be able to differentiate itself from a host of rental and purchasing platforms available today by improving the way people discover movies and TV shows to watch. Like Rdio, Vdio allows users to follow others on the network who share their taste in movies and TV shows, so you can stay updated on anything they've watched. Users can also create "sets" of videos, such as favorite and watch later lists, or a custom list that others can follow and contribute to – provided you open it up for others to edit.
Whether that will be enough to compete in an increasingly crowded video market remains to be seen.
The company does hope to go beyond the a-la-carte model with subscriptions for unlimited content. Larner himself calls this an "obvious progression" for Vdio. But so far content owners remain reluctant to offering up their newest, freshest content for a service like this, and instead limit them to their back-catalogue.
That's essentially the problem Netflix has had all along. While Vdio hopes it will eventually be able to get around this, Netflix apparently got tired of waiting and instead is investing millions in creating their own original content.
Rdio's new video service is available on the web and through an iPad app launching today. Curiously, the app allows users to stream content previously purchased from a computer, but it doesn't allow users to rent or purchase new content, presumably to avoid giving Apple a cut for in-app purchases.