Walmart’s Vudu announced that it will introduce a Share My Movie feature that will allow its customers to share their UltraViolet collections with up to five friends or family.
Back in the era of physical media, one of the cool things about owning CDs and DVDs was being able to lend them to friends and family to also enjoy. In many cases, that exposed new fans to a particular artist or film, who sometimes (not always) grew an affinity of their own for that media.
Sometimes they then bought the movie or album themselves. Sometimes they shared with others. And sometimes that created a halo effect around certain pieces of content that you wouldn’t otherwise hear about via word of mouth.
There are many great things about the switch to digital — i.e. no more running to the Blockbuster or Redbox (ha!) to return rentals, and no more rummaging through bins for discounts, etc. You can now just turn on your smart TV or your Roku or whatever and either browse Netflix for random stuff or purchase new movies and stream them right to your home.
But one thing that’s missing is the ability to share those films. In fact, when Hollywood and tech execs first came up with the idea behind UltraViolet, many people saw it specifically as a “new form of DRM” to stop people from sharing.
With the new Share My Movie feature, Vudu customers will be able to enter the email address of five people that they’d like to give access to for their movies. If those friends are already Vudu customers, the accounts will instantly be linked and they’ll be able to instantly see shared films in their own libraries. If not, they will be given access once they sign up.
For Vudu, the ability to share your library follows with the company’s trend of rolling out features that it hopes will get new customers to sign up. While there are several UltraViolet storefronts out there today, Vudu wants to be known as the place to own digital movies, according to head of marketing Amit Balan.
Last year it aggressively tried to convert — literally — DVD and Blu-ray buyers into UltraViolet users. It did that by rolling out a feature that would allow DVD owners to copy their movies from “disc-to-digital” for a small fee.
In the same way, Vudu could use the sharing feature to get new users signed up and create their own digital lockers. By doing so, it’s hoping to increase the number of UltraViolet customers it has on its platform, which in turn will lead to more UltraViolet sales. Or so it hopes.