Vudu and Sony dabble in DVD-style extras for streaming movies

Deleted scenes and director’s commentary continue to find their way online, as Vudu adds DVD-style extras to some of its streaming films.

Vudu will offer “Extras+” for a handful of Sony Pictures films, starting with District 9. Other movies that will get bonus content include After Earth, Grown Ups, Mortal Instruments, This is the End, White House Down and Smurfs 2, TechCrunch reports.

Some extra features will resemble the bonus content that usually comes with Blu-ray discs and DVDs, such as filmmaker commentary, deleted scenes, featurettes and movie trivia. But Vudu Extras+ will have a couple of unique features: Users can search by dialog, photos and videos with “scene search,” and select favorite clips to post on Facebook.

It’s worth noting that District 9 is only available to purchase, not to rent, and Sony seems keen on using bonus features as a way to encourage more purchases. “We’re interested in trying to add value to the digital ownership value proposition,” Richard Berger, SVP of Global Digital Strategy & Operations for Sony Pictures Home Entertainment told TechCrunch.

District 9 is one of the first movies to support Vudu's DVD-like extras. (Click to enlarge.)

Movie studios began using similar tactics with DVDs a few years ago, creating special rental discs with the bonus features stripped away. But as DVD sales plummet, it makes sense for studios to migrate those efforts online. The special features on Vudu will also be tied into UltraViolet, Hollywood’s attempt to offer an online movie locker. Users who already own a movie through UltraViolet or Vudu will get access to the bonus content once it’s available.

The idea of adding bonus content to online video is not new. Apple has offered “ iTunes Extras” for movie purchases since 2009, and Warner Bros. has dabbled in releasing movies as standalone apps. Netflix has also talked about adding bonus or second-screen content for its original series.

The interesting thing about Sony’s and Vudu’s approach is that they’re hoping to turn it into a standard of sorts. TechCrunch notes that the two companies are talking to retailers and other movie studios in hopes of getting them on board. There’s no reason why online movie watchers shouldn’t get the same features as Blu-ray or DVD owners, so hopefully the effort gets some traction.

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