Walmart Launches Disc-to-Digital Service

If you’ve ever wished you could watch your favorite DVD movie on your iPhone or iPad, Walmart has a deal for you. Today the chain unveiled its “disc-to-digital” service that allows customers to pay a small fee for unlimited online access to the films they already own on DVD or Blu-ray. All you have to do is get your discs over to the nearest Walmart and pay $2 for online streaming of your movie in standard definition or $5 for high definition.

At Walmart’s press conference for the service, exec John Aden stated that the program “allows customers to reconnect with the movies they already own on a variety of new devices, while preserving the investments they’ve already made in disc purchases.”

The service uses UltraViolet, which rather than storing content in a cloud, adds a “digital proof-of-purchase” to the customer’s UltraViolet account, creating a library of licenses.

Once access is paid for, the account holder can stream or download their films on up to 12 devices, and an account can be shared by up to six users. This means the whole family can have simultaneous access to their movies on phones, tablets and TVs, anywhere and anytime. The service is powered by Vudu, which Walmart has been using for its online video-on-demand streaming.

This is such a good idea that it’s surprising no one else thought of it before—or at least got it on the market already. It’s a natural for frequent travelers who enjoy watching marathons of their favorite TV series while stuck in airports or hotels. Sure, plenty of mobile devices let you stream Netflix movies, but the selection isn’t always just what you feel like watching.

Being the only retailer offering this service (for the moment, anyway) should also draw movie fans who are not regular Walmart customers into the stores so they can be seduced by the products on display—like more DVDs and Blu-ray discs.