Wal-Mart’s video download service debuts today (in beta form). Top new release movie purchases run ~$20 and TV shows are $1.96. But why would I pay the same price (or more) to buy a movie at “near DVD” quality and without extras? Heck, they’ve even outsourced the buying of discs and burning to me (assuming I don’t want to watch on my PC).
Though I don’t see myself as a customer, this service is noteworthy… First, Wal-Mart is a retail giant trying to compete online in digital media. (Despite Netflix sending their mail-order rental business packing.) Second, movie studios continue to get behind same day DVD and download release. Third, Wal-Mart’s signed on all six major movie studios… compared to Apple’s two (though I expect that to change shortly).
Interestingly, Netflix’s Watch Now download service launched last month with 1,000 titles, while Wal-Mart hit the ground running today with 3,000 movies. As with most services (other than iTunes), Wal-Mart is utilizing Microsoft’s DRM and requires both Windows and Internet Explorer.