Walmart preparing to offer movie downloads

Reports are coming out that Walmart is gearing up to offer movie downloads in the coming months. The impact of the move on pricing could be big; Walmart sells almost half of the physical DVDs bought in the US and the company could be a major player in the increasingly crowded movies-on-demand space. Walmart’s movie rental service was discontinued last spring and the company entered a partnership with Netflix to provide rentals to Walmart customers and promote purchase of DVDs from Walmart.

The Financial Times writes that a job posting from Walmart seeks a business manager for digital video who will define “pricing strategies to maximize market share.” Walmart is well known for using its market power to get the lowest prices of almost every other commodity on earth; whether it is able to budge the movie studios to lower their prices will be the biggest question.

CNN Money is reporting that the downloads may come in part through in store kiosks, which would be a very different service from the other major players like Amazon, iTunes and AOL. Movie downloads brought to market so far have not hit the low price that many consumers were hoping for and that’s presumably because customers are expected to pay for the convenience of downloads. That stay at home convenience wouldn’t be a selling point to consumers when it comes to in store kiosks. Walmart may also offer one download as back up for customers who buy physical DVDs from the company. I don’t expect anything terribly exciting here, but I’d love to be surprised.