VUDU swings for the fences and connects! Big news from California-based set top box provider VUDU this morning, as the company announces a huge new addition to its arsenal — the VUDU RIA (Rich Internet Application) platform. Last time we covered VUDU, it was beefing up its 1080p offering and doling out generous $200 download credits for new customers (which is still available until the end of the year, by the way). This time around however, VUDU has something entirely new and different up its sleeve. Its freshly announced RIA platform is a tremendous step for set top boxes and a sharp deviation from the norm. In a nutshell, it is an open platform that paves a direct path to your television for an endless amount of internet-based content. To start things off, VUDU has a few new services that showcase the potential of its RIA platform: over 120 completely free on-demand TV channels with standard and high definition content, access to the entire YouTube video library, a handful of casual games and a portal into picture services such as Flickr and Picasa. Yeah, big time. VUDU will continue to add new content throughout 2009 and will open its platform to third party developers sometime in the first half of 2008. From the looks of things, 2009 is the year of VUDU. Hit the jump for two more screen shots.