March 14, 2012, 11:56 AM

Wal-Mart will digitize customers’ DVDs for Internet viewing

Consumers can convert DVD and Blu-ray discs into web-hosted movies.

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In its latest take on blending in-store and online retail services, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. next month plans to start offering customers a way to convert their DVDs and Blu-ray discs into digital movies viewable through Internet-connected devices including smartphones, tablets, game consoles and TVs.

Consumers will be able to view the digital versions of their converted discs through Vudu.com, a Wal-Mart subsidiary that offers Internet streaming of movies. Wal-Mart is No. 6 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.

To use the service, consumers can take DVDs and Blue-ray discs of movies from participating movie studios— Paramount Home Media Distribution, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, Universal Studios Home Entertainment and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment—to a Walmart Photo Center in any of more than 3,500 Wal-Mart stores. Wal-Mart will charge $2 per DVD or Blu-ray disc to convert a movie to digital, and upload each to Vudu.com. It will charge $5 to convert a standard DVD to a high-definition digital copy. Consumers will need to set up a free account on Vudu.com.

Executives at the participating studios expressed enthusiasm for the service in prepared statements released by Wal-Mart, noting that the new service will inject new life into the movie business.

"There are more than 100 million households in the U.S. that have an existing DVD or Blu-ray library. It is now possible to digitize those movies conveniently and enjoy the benefits that ownership gives at home or any place you go," said Simon Swart, executive vice president and general manager, North America, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.

Dennis Maguire, president, Worldwide Home Media Distribution, Paramount Pictures, added that Wal-Mart’s broad base of stores will help studios better reach those households with the streaming service. "The unmatched reach of Walmart, which serves over 140 million consumers every week, means we can quickly grow awareness for this unique technology throughout every region across the country," he said.

In other digital movie deals, Amazon.com Inc., No. 1 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, last fall began offering more streaming video under an agreement with Disney-ABC Television. And last month, Amazon signed a deal with Viacom to stream more than 2,000 TV shows.

Joel Anderson,  president and CEO of Walmart.com U.S., will be a featured speaker at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition 2012in June, offering a presentation on "Creating innovation through the next generation of retail."

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