February 06, 2007
Walmart: "an 80-pound weakling"?
Posted by Gordon Smith

Walmart has partnered with Walt Disney, Warner Brothers, Paramount, Sony, 20th Century Fox and Universal to sell digital movies and television shows over the internet. According to the NYT, "Wal-Mart says it has used its clout to pull together all the right Hollywood players, create an easy-to-use Web site with Hewlett-Packard and develop a broad library of videos." About that website, this is what it looked like this morning:


Well, I am sure that it will be easy to use once they get it out of beta. It's supposed to look like this:


As for television shows, we are told that "Wal-Mart will cull titles from networks big and small, like Comedy Central, CW, FX, Logo, MTV and Nickelodeon." Notice that ABC, CBS and NBC are conspicuously missing.

Prices for movies will range from $12.88 to $19.88 on the day of the DVD release. Older movies will start at $7.50, and TV shows at $1.96 an episode.

Reportedly, Walmart has agreed that download prices would remain "comparable" to DVD prices, and they do not have an exclusive relationship with any of the movie studios. This means that Walmart will be competing with more established sites. iTunes carries movies from only Disney and Paramount, but Movielink is owned by five of the studios and CinemaNow offers movies from all six major studios. Amazon's Unbox lacks only Disney films. Do we have any reason to believe that this will be more successful than Walmart's foray into music downloads?

UPDATE: It appears that Walmart's site works properly if you are using Internet Explorer. The garbled screenshot above was taken on Firefox. HP is touting its "new business" (Video Merchant Services), which developed Walmart's site, but who develops sites that don't work with Firefox? (Note: Movielink also doesn't run on Firefox.) This just reinforces the image of Walmart as tech-unsavvy.

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