Walmart to Launch Disc to Digital Service

In an important step towards allowing owners of DVDs and Blu-ray disks to access that content on multiple devices, Walmart has announced that it is launching a disc-to-digital service that will allow disk owners access to that content on over 300 Internet-connected devices via the video streaming service VUDU.

The launch on April 16 will allow owners of disks sold by five major studios owners to go to over 3,500 Walmart stores to obtain digital access to their content. An in-store associate will create a free VUDU account. Then for a fee of $2 for a DVD or a Blu-Ray disc, the associate will authorized digital copies of the discs, which allows the user to access the content via VUDU on a wide array of smartphones, tablets, PCs, laptops and other Internet-connected devices.

The system is also set up to allow owners of DVDs to upgrade their library to HD for a $5 fee.

The studios involved at launch are: Paramount Home Media Distribution, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, Universal Studios Home Entertainment and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

VUDU is a wholly owned Walmart subsidiary.

The move is designed to boost demand for DVDs and Blu-ray disks, by offering consumers more value for their purchase, something both the studios and retailers hope will boost sales. It also could encourage owners to upgrade their existing collections to HD for a relatively small fee.

"Walmart is helping America get access to their DVD library," said John Aden, executive VP for general merchandising, Walmart U.S., in a statement. "Walmart Entertainment's new disc-to-digital service will allow our customers to reconnect with the movies they already own on a variety of new devices, while preserving the investments they've made in disc purchases over the years. We believe this revolutionary in-store service will unlock new value for already-owned DVDs, and will encourage consumers to continue building physical and digital movie libraries in the future."

The Walmart effort supports UltraViolet, the movie industry's initiative currently in its beta phase that allows consumers to put their purchased movies into a cloud-based digital library and keep track of them safely and securely. As part of the effort, Walmart is also allowing customers to watch and purchase UltraViolet-enabled titles directly from VUDU.

"Never before have consumers been able to add value to their existing collections so easily and economically as with Walmart's disc-to-digital conversion service," added David Bishop, president, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. "Disc-to-digital will be a milestone through which Hollywood and Walmart are finding ways to create even more value for consumers."