updated 11:30 am EST, Tue November 28, 2006
Wal-Mart Video Downloads
Large-scale retailer Wal-Mart today unveiled its first direct-download video store with what it says is a unique approach to downloads. While the company plans to launch a beta test that allows customers to buy movies and TV shows solely as downloads, its new service will primarily accommodate DVD buyers at its stores: buyers of certain DVD movies, beginning with Superman Returns this Wednesday, will be able to purchase download versions of the same movies for an additional price. Prices will vary between $2 for a portable-quality edition for handhelds to $4 for a hybrid download that includes both the portable version and a full-quality copy for computers. A file format was not specified but is likely to involve protected Windows Media files similar to those of its existing music store.
The retailer has been historically resistant to video downloads, frequently seeking instead to protect its often lucrative DVD sales which dominate the US market. Wal-Mart has in the past been accused of threatening Apple for its movie download service, and has alternately been rumored to have engaged in talks with the same company to minimize the impact of a likely decline in physical sales.