Walmart is about to make a big push for digital movie ownership.
At a press conference today in Los Angeles, the company announced that, as rumored, it’s launching a new program called the Disc to Digital service. Starting on April 16, anyone can bring their DVD collection into a Walmart store, and copies of each movie will be loaded onto your account on VUDU, the online video service that the retailer acquired two years ago. Standard definition DVDs will be converted into standard definition videos and Blu-rays will be converted into high-definition, for $2 each. You can also “upgrade” a standard DVD into an HD copy for $5.
To make this happen, Walmart is partnering with 20th Century Fox, Universal, Sony Pictures, Paramount, and Warner Bros., and it sounds like the program will include any DVD released by those studios. (Executives from all five took the stage at Walmart’s event.) The system will also integrate with the UltraViolet digital locker platform that the studios have been pushing, making UltraViolet titles available through VUDU.
Executive Vice President John Aden described the program as a way to “provide more choices for customers,” rather than just replacing DVDs. Echoing a common Hollywood talking point, he said, “Physical and digital movie ownership are not mutually exclusive.” Instead, he says the digital copy and the physical copy complement each other.
One of the big goals of the program is to reach consumers who have never owned a movie digitally (and to persuade them that they should still buy their movies, rather than just subscribing to Netflix). Walmart is already well-positioned to do this given its tremendous retail footprint, but the company says it will also be launching a “massive” campaign behind this effort, one that’s on the scale of a “blockbuster film launch.”