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Wal-Mart jumps into the downloadable movie market

Wal-Mart is joining the likes of Amazon, Apple and Microsoft by providing downloadable movie and TV show content for users. Wal-Mart’s entry into this market was rumored as far back as September of 2006. The company on Tuesday launched a new beta service from which users can choose from roughly 3,000 movies and television shows.

For its initial offering, Wal-Mart has signed on with only one of the four major television networks: Fox. The company is currently in talks to provide content from ABS, CBS and NBC. Wal-Mart's service does, however, feature content from MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central.

The company will offer movie downloads for as low as $7.50 for existing titles and as high as $19.88 for new titles. TV shows will be offered for $1.96 each.

Wal-Mart will also feature movie downloads from all of the major film studios. While Apple has only signed on Walt Disney Co. and Paramount Studios, Wal-Mart has backing from those two companies in addition to Sony, 20th Century Fox, Universal and Warner Bros.

"Customers have a growing interest in downloading video content, but complementary and supplemental to buying content on DVD," said Kevin Swint, Wal-Mart's divisional manager for digital media.

According to Adams Media Research, the online movie market has an estimated 5-year forecast of $4 billion USD in revenue. This is compared to a $27 billion USD for DVD rentals and sales.

All downloadable content will be viewable on a PC or transferable to a Windows Media portable device. Not surprisingly, Apple's iPod and Mac computers will not be able to take advantage of the service.

"The real problem is people want to watch these movies on their television set. There already is an effective way to do that, which is to buy a DVD," said Josh Bernoff of Forrester Research.

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By SocrPlyr on 2/6/2007 2:05:26 PM , Rating: 2
Check out walmart's download site using firefox.


RE: Firefox
By wrdegler on 2/6/2007 3:57:13 PM , Rating: 2
Walmart is in trouble. If they can not make the site work in firefox, this indicates a huge failing on their behalf. What makes this so important is not the loss of customers as so few of us use firefox, but it shows a lack of thoroughness required to under take such a large project. for example if iTunes has even a small bug, the blogosphere and internet communities goes after Apple's throat. Walmart has a number of people that see them as a great evil, this failure will probably get some press.

Here is a prediction-
If they are going to last this will be have to be fixed within a day(really minutes or hours). If not they are only going to be in this for a short while. There will be other hidden problems that arise in this project that might really cause a loss of customers.

RE: Firefox
By h0kiez on 2/6/2007 4:02:49 PM , Rating: 2
What makes this so important is not the loss of customers as so few of us use firefox,

Wrong. Not only is FF's market share very significant, but the type of people that would tend to download movies are also the type of people who would tend to use firefox. I remember seeing an article on Digg about the breakdown of browser usage by digg users. FF had a huge majority (I think 60%-70%) with the rest split almost evenly b/w IE, Safari, and Opera among others.

RE: Firefox
By Gatt on 2/6/2007 4:17:13 PM , Rating: 2
Not to be rude,

But the majority of PC users are fairly lucky if they can find the power button, I'll guarantee you they're not installing an alternate web browser.

Nor would I say that Digg is at all a good reflection of that market at large.

If FF managed to have a double digit market share it'd be a pure miracle once you start looking into the real majority of computer users.

RE: Firefox
By Ringold on 2/6/2007 4:45:55 PM , Rating: 2
Plus, to be honest, since IE7 has come out, given the number of sites I have to deal with that never bothered to properly support FF, I've moved everything to IE except for pr0n; FF can do that duty more safely, and IE7 can do everything I needed with FF except with wider compatibility (and imho looks better, but thats just me).

Besides, FF users shouldn't have a stick so far up their rear that they refuse to click their mouse a couple times to fire up IE. They'd be no better than the gay's complaining over the Snickers superbowl commercial... chill out, folks.

I'd almost give Linux users room to properly whine, but I think it's still pretty common knowledge that converting 100% to Linux at this point in the game means surrendering expectations of compatibility, so, no luck there either.

RE: Firefox
By Methusela on 2/6/2007 4:52:12 PM , Rating: 1
Welcome to miracles 101.

As of July 2006, here are the figures:

As of the end of 2006, they were:
(read for various market shares)

Hell, as of 2005 it had double digit market share:,1000000121,3923...

And, in Australia, here are the latest figures:,7204,21...

So, anyway, blah blah. Did I wow you enough?

RE: Firefox
By Crank the Planet on 2/6/2007 7:43:24 PM , Rating: 2
As I recall most of Firefox's success is due to alternative browsers like Opera and Avant. Opera had tabbed browsing like 2 years before Firefox even came out. Mouse gestures, keyboard shortcuts, and many features found in Firefox were part of several different browsers before they were incorporated. Opera also has the best proven track record of security (cross your fingers for future releases :) and you don't have to deal with extensions. All the features are built right in and work great together. Opera also seems to come out with new innovations and features before anyone else. There have been only a handful of sites that weren't complatible in the 4-5 years I've been using it. Hmmm, lite, strong, fast, secure (best proven track record so far), and innovative features? bittorrent built in? Completely customizable skin and buttons I can add/change/move about anywhere? Wow, I think if I weren't already an Opera user, I'd download it right now.

RE: Firefox
By hondaman on 2/7/2007 1:42:41 AM , Rating: 3
Firefox enjoys over a 30% market share. Some of you guys really need to step outside of your MS virtual reality once in a while.

Check the stats yourself, here:

This is simply horrible on Walmarts behalf. Inexcusable.

RE: Firefox
By crimson117 on 2/7/2007 10:23:40 AM , Rating: 2
"Firefox enjoys over a 30% market share."

Wrong. W3Schools' web logs do not define the entire market.

W3Schools is a website for people with an interest for web technologies. These people are more interested in using alternative browsers than the average user. The average user tends to use Internet Explorer, since it comes preinstalled with Windows. Most do not seek out other browsers.

These facts indicate that the browser figures above are not 100% realistic. Other web sites have statistics showing that Internet Explorer is used by at least 80% of the users.
Determining Firefox's market share by checking W3Schools' web logs is like determining Mac's market share by taking a survey at an Apple store.

RE: Firefox
By jonnybradley on 2/7/2007 5:35:08 AM , Rating: 2
Intresting statas there. Just on question, IE has 81% FF has 22% - now in my book that makes 103% ?? and other browsers??

Have to question the source if he can't even add up to 100.

Iam a FF user by the way!!

RE: Firefox
By NullSubroutine on 2/7/2007 8:46:57 AM , Rating: 2
I didnt read the article, but I will answer your question. When doing statistics, there is a figure, commonly referred to as margin of error. Typically +/- 3%, if it is a decent sample size. This could be the extra 3% you are seeing.

RE: Firefox
By h0kiez on 2/7/2007 9:33:09 AM , Rating: 2
Wow. You clearly didn't read what I wrote very carefully and your facts are wrong as well.

the majority of PC users are fairly lucky if they can find the power button point was that this type of use that you speak of (probably the majority) DOES exist, and that they DO use IE...but they also couldn't download a movie from Wal Mart if their life depended on it.

Nor would I say that Digg is at all a good reflection of that market at large.

Of course it's not...but it is a good reflection of the young, tech-savvy type of person that might actually want to and have the wherewithall to download a movie from the internet.

If FF managed to have a double digit market share it'd be a pure miracle

As pointed out by those without their head up their bums, your miracle has come true. I've seen various estimates from credible sources pegging it at roughly 15%-20%. And that INCLUDES all the idiots that run IE exclusively and can't find the power button. Take them out, and I bet you'd be left with 40% or more of those wanting and able to download a movie using FF.

Don't get me wrong, I certainly have IE installed as well and I'm not afraid to use it, but FF has its advantages, and a hell of a lot of people use it.

RE: Firefox
By mydogfarted on 2/6/2007 4:52:01 PM , Rating: 2
I bet Sony and Apple are to blame.

RE: Firefox
By walk2k on 2/6/07, Rating: -1
RE: Firefox
By tmp8000 on 2/6/2007 7:43:08 PM , Rating: 2
Or 14% of users, but don't let the facts bog you down.

RE: Firefox
By nangryo on 2/6/2007 10:44:23 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, just get an IE tab extension (about 300Kb)and you are done for. It loaded smooth and ready.

RE: Firefox
By RTMike on 2/7/2007 4:53:04 PM , Rating: 2
I work at a company that does online video, and our users run about half Firefox, and about half everybody else, according to our server logs.

Too Expensive, Piracy Too Easy
By Flunk on 2/6/2007 2:10:25 PM , Rating: 3
I don't think that the media companies fully understand the concept of the internet as a content delivery medium. The combination of unreasonably high prices for content and readily available pirated content really makes it hard for many people (including myself) to pay for DRM-crippled copies of TV Shows and Movies when we can get full-quality pirated copies just as easily.

I can see value in a physical format such as DVD or Blue-ray because I am getting a high-quality product that doesn't unfairly restrict my usage. But for what you get with paid downloads the value is just not there. I can watch shows on TV for $40 a month for as many as I like. If I could download TV shows at a similar rate perhaps I would cancel my cable service and go for that instead.

RE: Too Expensive, Piracy Too Easy
By Whedonic on 2/6/2007 2:42:18 PM , Rating: 2
If some company would just provide cheap, high quality downloads, and they'd blow the rest out of the water.

RE: Too Expensive, Piracy Too Easy
By h0kiez on 2/6/2007 3:57:30 PM , Rating: 2
I agree, but they can't. For what you and I would consider "reasonably cheap", no service could make a deal with any of the major studios. I'll just keep torrenting for now I guess.

RE: Too Expensive, Piracy Too Easy
By RTMike on 2/7/2007 5:00:08 PM , Rating: 2
Real time streaming at DVD quality is possible, and very difficult to crack. Rentals cost about what DVD rentals cost at Blockbuster or Netflix. There are many excuses people use when they steal over the internet, but the lack of availability should not suffice, if you have a conscience. Companies like are doing this right now. They may not have the big studio content yet, but it's coming soon, they say.

RE: Too Expensive, Piracy Too Easy
By walk2k on 2/6/2007 7:05:52 PM , Rating: 2
The internet is not a truck! You can't just dump enormous amounts of material into the tubes, enormous amounts of material. What will happen when my staff sends me internet on Friday, and I don't get it until today?

By ajfink on 2/6/2007 1:54:53 PM , Rating: 2
It would be a lot better if it were cheaper...the cost just doesn't make sense for digital delivery. My Zune would like this stuff, though on long car rides where I don't have to drive, though.

RE: Tempting
By kibets on 2/6/2007 2:55:31 PM , Rating: 2
yes, maybe if they offered the small 320x240 version for the Zune for maybe $2 a movie I'd buy but for those prices I would just assume walk across the street to the video store and rent the DVD for $3.50.

Why would anyone pay >$10 for 640 X 480 is beyond me!

RE: Tempting
By isaacmacdonald on 2/6/2007 3:23:38 PM , Rating: 2
I agree. When I think walmart I think cheap (that and crappy employer, but that's another topic). It costs .03 more to buy TV shows from apple or amazon--that's hardly an enticement to switch over.

Particulars aside, $1.99 for a 25 minute tv-show is excessive. Unlike music, you're not likely to replay a tv-show more than once. These companies would do a lot more business if they reduced the price to $.99 (my personal threshold for <30 minutes of half-decent entertainment).

Getting better but not quite there yet.
By Golgatha777 on 2/6/2007 2:31:20 PM , Rating: 2
At least you get a PC and Portable version of the content for the price of a DVD. If the PC format is 720x480 with at least 5.1 sound (not holding my breath), then you have an almost reasonable proposition for the customer.

Here's a better proposition. How about $15 for HD quality video (at least 1280x720, high bitrate, with 5.1 surround) that can be sent to a Windows Media Extender box? In this age of Netflix and, their downloadable product needs to have more value added than just instant gratification.

By Golgatha777 on 2/6/2007 2:40:12 PM , Rating: 2
Good thing I didn't hold my breath. This will just be ammo for the MPAA to show that piracy has indeed run rampant, since no one will use this service.

How much hard drive space do I need?

Generally downloaded movies will occupy 500 MB to 1 GB of disk space. Your disk space requirements depend on the number of videos you want to add to your video library. To find out how much disk space you have, double-click on the "My Computer" icon and then right-click on the disk drive where you will store your video. View "Properties" for this drive to see how much available space you have.

What format(s) are available for TV episodes?

Portable: Our TV episodes are optimized for fast downloads and viewing on the go. All TV shows can be played on both your PC/Laptop and compatible portable video players. Please note that due to licensing restrictions portable files will not play on iPOD, Sony PSP, or Microsoft Zune portable players.

Technical Specification: 320 X 240 resolution, 30 fps, 500-810 kbps bit rate.

By h0kiez on 2/6/2007 4:07:40 PM , Rating: 2
ALL of these services miss one major point, though. IMHO, what people want is an easy download service that they can watch on their TV. I mean click download on the TV and watch it on the TV. I don't mean burn it; I don't mean transcode it; I don't mean stream it. It has to be simpler to get on a TV. This is exactly why XBL is a huge hit with their show/movie downloads despite a pretty limited library at this point, and On Demand from cable does very well to despite most people's hatred for their cable provider.

By Lord Banshee on 2/6/2007 1:50:04 PM , Rating: 2
Seeing that it is the same price as the DVD version i am not sure how well the service will be. Seeing i have to pay for the internet connection and DVD media (if i choose to burn to DVD) i would think it should be at least 5 dollar cheaper.

Also it says there is a license that goes with the movie but it is a license to own and you can backup and burn on DVD's is it me or the license has no purpose, DRM just because? Unless of coarse having such a license i can download the movie again if my hard-drive crashes or something and i can refer to it with a number or something.

One more the DVD format, WalMart gives the specs of TV series format and they only list full-screen and wide-screen for the DVD movies am i to assume this is a direct copy of the DVD so downloads are going to be 4.7-9.5GB downloads. Just wondering as if the price is the same as the DVD the image quality and sound better be DVD standard or better.

RE: Price
By paydirt on 2/7/2007 8:52:41 AM , Rating: 2
This may sound obscure, but they sell role-playing game books as eBooks and the major company that makes D&D, Wizards of the Coast (WotC), offers NO discount to the retail price for a watermarked PDF (which encodes the file with a mark saying who originally bought it, in case you share it with other folks).

It is believed that part of why WotC charges full retail price is in order to not alienate the "brick and morter" stores that carry their physical books. They can also get away with charging that much because customers in Australia or Africa will pay full retail for a book that may cost 2 to 3 times retail after the markup for shipping.

Too much...
By therealnickdanger on 2/6/2007 1:50:11 PM , Rating: 3
Sheesh, they need to make this stuff cheaper...

By Takeoff250 on 2/6/2007 3:10:37 PM , Rating: 2
Will I be able to stream a movie to my xbox360 via media center? IF yes, I think this could become interesting... Having all my movies on my hard drive and stream them to my xbox360. And I want 24 in high definition too!

By matthewpapa on 2/6/2007 8:07:34 PM , Rating: 2
I dont think ive ever seen a page that f00ked up before because of a simple browser incompatibility. Only walmart can manage that I guess.....

Home Networking....
By SunAngel on 2/6/2007 2:28:22 PM , Rating: 1
Home Networking Home Networking facilitated by use of Windows Media DRM 10 for Network Devices is the only localized home network for connection to consumer audio-video devices within your home that is authorized for use with the Service.Unless otherwise specifically authorized, you are not permitted to access or view Content using any other Home Networking technology.

If the following entitles what I think it does, then this is a huge step in DRM. I assume if WMP10 (or higher) can substantiate a local ip address, streaming around the house is permissible. It was taken directly from the Term & Conditions.

"Google fired a shot heard 'round the world, and now a second American company has answered the call to defend the rights of the Chinese people." -- Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.)
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