Walmart unveils disc-to-digital program
Retail juggernaut Walmart will soon become the leading driver of consumer awareness of the UltraViolet digital movie locker service with a new initiative. Announced this week with five of the largest Hollywood studios, in-store kiosks will allow consumers to bring in DVDs and purchase a digital version for their personal UltraViolet account.
The program is called Disc-to-Digital By Vudu, and will cost $2 for a standard definition digital copy, and $5 for a high definition digital copy. The content will be available on Vudu-enabled devices such as smartphones, set-top boxes, HDTVs, and online.
Walmart vice president John Aden said the service will be guided by a Walmart employee to provide the service with customer awareness and participation. Of course a big part of this has got to be that each DVD will be marked at the store to prevent other parties from using the same disc to make a digital purchase.
Walmart will have exclusive in-store disc-to-digital sales using UltraViolet technology. Recently, Samsung announced similar plans to add UltraViolet authentication within Blu-ray Disc players and home-theater-in-a-box systems for use with Flixster.
The availability of digital copies is still reliant on the studio’s releasing digital versions. The studios did claim that thousands of DVD titles will be available at launch on April 16. Blu-ray Disc authentication will be added in the future at some point.
While I still think UltraViolet is the most promising solution to the digital problem the studios are facing, I am beginning to see some things consumers aren’t going to be keen on. To begin with, the UltraViolet model is intended on promoting physical disc sales. Instead of diving into the digital world the way the music industry did with iTunes, they’re still insisting consumers buy a hard copy and only then receive the digital copy with it. With this program, they’re asking consumers to repurchase the content in digital form.
There’s also the matter of library accessibility. When the studios first announced UltraViolet, it seemed like users would have a singular library they could access at any time. But now it seems like different studios and services will segment your library. Warner will obviously use Flixster. Walmart is using Vudu. It would be a major pain to have to remember which service to use to find content you own, especially when they’re all supposed to be stored in the same rights locker.