Skype’s Friis Adds Video to Rdio With ‘Skyfall,’ ‘Downton Abbey’

Rdio Inc., the music-streaming service started by Skype co-founder Janus Friis, is expanding into film and TV shows, offering recent hits including “Life of Pi” and “Downton Abbey” for sale or rental.

Vdio, pronounced vee-dee-oh, is available for preview by Rdio customers starting today, the San Francisco-based company said. The service will become widely available by late September. Movies will cost about $4.99 to rent and $12.99 to buy. TV shows, for sale only, will range from $2.99 an episode to $40 for an entire season.

Rdio, trailing competitor Spotify Ltd. in music subscribers, is trying to create a larger entertainment business. As with music, Vdio users will be able to use social features to share what they’re watching with friends and discover new programs. The closely held company will rent and sell films and shows over Web browsers on computers and via an app for Apple Inc.’s iPad.

“The goal here is to build the world’s best streaming entertainment platform, where people can come and get film, TV and music,” Drew Larner, Rdio’s chief executive officer, said in an interview. “Diversifying the offering gives us a better opportunity to draw even more users.”

Existing Rdio subscribers, and new ones who sign up in the next 60 days, will receive a $25 credit to use on Vdio, the closely held company said. Vdio has agreements with major studios and networks, and is seeking rights from Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. and Time Warner Inc.’s HBO, Larner said.

The Rdio music service offers subscribers unlimited listening from its library of 18 million tracks for $9.99 a month, with access on PCs, mobile devices and Web-connected products like Roku’s set-top box. The company may eventually expand Vdio to a subscription model.

Social Model

“At some point in the future we would like to offer a subscription bundle of Rdio and Vdio,” Larner said.

As with Rdio, users will be able to discover new TV shows and movies by seeing in real time what friends and others are watching, the company said. Users can create sets, or playlists of TV shows and films, that can be shared with others, or opt out of the social features altogether.

Vdio’s film releases include the James Bond movie “Skyfall,” “The Hobbit” and “Zero Dark Thirty.” TV shows include “The Walking Dead,” “Breaking Bad,” and “Homeland.” As with Apple’s iTunes, viewers will get discounts for subscribing to an entire season.

Vdio plans to add new titles and bonus content daily, the company said. The service is starting in the U.S. and U.K., with Canada next, Larner said.

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