July 26, 2011, 12:26 PM

Walmart.com launches a streaming video service

The retailer offers the videos through Vudu, which Wal-Mart bought last year.

Lead Photo

Consumers can now stream movies over the Internet from Walmart.com. Starting today, the retail chain is incorporating the digital streaming capabilities of its Vudu subsidiary on Walmart.com. Wal-Mart bought Vudu in 2010 and has operated it as a stand-alone streaming rental service at Vudu.com.

“With Vudu becoming increasingly popular among our customers, we’re providing them more access to enjoy this digital entertainment experience directly online at Walmart.com,” says Steve Nave, senior vice president and general manager of Walmart.com. Nave did not say how many Walmart.com customers are also Vudu.com customers.

Consumers visiting Walmart.com can find the digital rental service along the left-handed side of the home page. Consumers click on the link for the movies, movies and books category and then click on Videos on Demand by Vudu. Once there they can browse the Vudu library and select whether they want a standard, high definition or full high definition stream. 24-hour rentals for new releases are typically  priced at $3.99 for standard definition, $4.99 for high definition at 720p resolution and $5.99 for full high definition at 1080p resolution. Walmart.com also features a movie of the day priced at 99 cents for all formats. Wal-Mart did not say how many movies are in the Vudu library, but the retailer previously said that Vudu has licensing agreements for 16,000 titles. 

Consumers can watch the film on their computers or on their televisions if they have the required web-enabled hardware, such as some HDTVs, Blu-ray players and Sony’s PlayStation3 gaming console.

Wal-Mart says videos are available for digital streaming the same day they are released on physical discs. Walmart.com includes links on the individual film’s digital rental page to product listings for the title on DVD and Blu-ray, should consumers prefer to buy a disc.  

“By incorporating digital movie content into the Walmart.com entertainment shopping experience, we're enabling customers to easily choose how they want to enjoy their entertainment content, whether that be through a physical DVD, digital streaming or both,” says Edward Lichty, general manager for Vudu.   

A market analysis from research firm IHS Screen Digest released earlier this year placed Vudu fifth by market share in a ranking of streaming rental providers that do not require consumers to have a subscription to access content. First place went to Apple, No. 4 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide. Microsoft placed second in 2010, followed by Sony, which was third. Amazon VOD placed fourth. Netflix was not included because it requires consumers to subscribe.

The Vudu service is Wal-Mart’s third attempt to rent videos through Walmart.com. In 2007, it shut its Video Downloads Store after operating it for 11 months. In 2005, it closed a DVD rental by mail service and directed customers to Netflix Inc.

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