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HP, Wal-Mart Team on Download Service

Hewlett-Packard (HP) has created a new service for downloading movies and TV shows through the Internet, HP Video Merchant Services, with retail giant Wal-Mart as its first customer.

The service, which allows consumers to purchase a movie or TV show as a downloaded file and store it on a PC or portable video player, is aimed at grabbing a chunk of the video download market that is currently dominated by Apple’s iTunes online store and movie-focused services such as Movielink and CinemaNow. It is the second major online video initiative unveiled in the past month, following the introduction of a streaming movie service by DVD-by-mail supplier Netflix.

HP says its new service is designed to create online video web stores and provide content fulfillment services for retailers in a similar manner as HP’s Snapfish business provides online photo services.

Wal-Mart’s beta site for the HP service, called Wal-Mart Video Downloads, allows consumers to purchase video downloads of movies from major studios including 20th Century Fox, Disney, MGM, Paramount, Sony, Universal and Warner Bros., with new titles running from $14.88 to $19.88, and television shows from networks Comedy Central, the CW, Fox, FX, MTV, Nickelodeon, Speed and VH1, for $1.96 a show. A season of Fox’s “24” costs $36.25.

The service from Wal-Mart, the number one bricks-and-mortar retailer of DVD movies, will also allow consumers to purchase DVDs for mail delivery.

“Today’s launch marks a significant milestone for HP as we work toward driving the entertainment industry’s transformation from analog to digital, just as we did for photography,” said Vyomesh Joshi, executive vice president, Imaging and Printing Group, HP, in a statement.