Walmart leaps into the video download battle this week. The first service to offer titles from all six major film studios, Walmart faces off against iTunes, Amazon Unbox, CinemaNow, MovieLink, Vongo, Netflix, BitTorrent, Akimbo, Xbox Live, and others too numerous to mention. And the ones I mentioned are too numerous to remember, which is part of the marketing problem.
But Walmart is memorable. They account for 40% of all DVDs sold. And they used that leverage to nail agreements with all six of the major studios. The online service is Windows-only. 3000-titles-only (for starters). No DVD-extras. Not quite DVD quality. And Walmart has already lost to Netflix in the DVD-by-mail game.
Stories by Michael Barbaro in NYT and David Lieberman in USA Today.
[Update: My take on the Amazon-TiVo deal. Feb 7. 11:31 AM]
Mickeleh's Take: Movies over the Net is still a not-ready for prime-time early adopter geek's game. For our viewers at home, it's all tradeoffs and gotchas. Small libraries, high prices, less than DVD resolution (at a time when HDTV sales are taking off), rights restrictions, etc. And most of all, too many choices. Expect Unbox and Xbox to hang in there (Amazon and Microsoft can keep them on life support forever). Expect AppleTV and Netflix to make the most headway. Apple, has the closest to a simple end-to-end system from distribution through handhelds to the big TV in the living room. Netflix has the best and most innovative deal—free to DVD-by-mail subscribers; you have a time alotment, not a title alotment, which encourages you to sample and abandon titles until you find one you like (remember channel surfing?) Pogue has the details on why Netflix is so cool.
(Tags: Walmart, Netflix, Apple TV, Xbox, iTunes, Xbox Live, Streaming, Movies)