Walmart throws in with UltraViolet for digital content storage

As expected, Walmart Tuesday confirmed that it would support Hollywood's hoped-for DVD savior, UltraViolet.

The technology that consumers have thus far met with a collective yawn will now, hopefully, get a significant boost from the giant retailer's "Disc to Digital" program that will start next month in more than 3,500 Walmart stores across the U.S.

The service, which will cost $2 per disk, will convert consumers' DVDs to digital files for storage-and access on multiple devices--in the cloud. The service also allows users to upgrade their DVDs to HD for a $5 fee.

Walmart said its associates will help consumers create an account in its Vudu movie streaming service, authorize the digital copies and queue them in the Vudu account. Consumers will be able to keep their physical copies of the movies and will be able to access their digital copies through their Vudu account.

Five of the six major studios, including Paramount, Sony Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox, Universal Studios and Warner Bros., are participating. Disney has been the lone holdout among the major studios and is working on its own system.

"Walmart is helping America get access to their DVD library," said John Aden, executive VP of general merchandising for Walmart U.S., in a statement. "Walmart Entertainment's new disc-to-digital service will allow our customers to reconnect with the movies they already own on a variety of new devices, while preserving the investments they've made in disc purchases over the years. We believe this revolutionary in-store service will unlock new value for already-owned DVDs, and will encourage consumers to continue building physical and digital movie libraries in the future."

Walmart said it's committed to a major ad campaign to support the new initiative.

Hollywood has seen sales of DVDs and Blu-ray discs, once a guaranteed money maker, decline steadily. From a high of $14 billion in 2004, sales slipped to $9.5 billion in 2011.

"This is a critical moment" for the movie industry, said Tom Adams, an analyst at IHS Screen Digest, adding that he believed the deal could be a positive step for movie sales.

For more:
- see this release
- see this MarketWatch article

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