A blackbird sits atop a Wal-Mart sign. Dark clouds gather in the background.
Will Wal-Mart's streaming movies portend the doom of Netflix? (Photo Credit: CC BY-ND/Koonisutra/Flickr)

It has been predicted as many as 2 million customers will cancel their subscriptions in the wake of the Netflix price hike. Where all of those customers will go won’t be left up to chance, if Wal-Mart has anything to say about it. The retail giant announced Tuesday that it is integrating its recently acquired high-definition streaming video service VUDU with WalMart.com.

Stream movies and TV in HD, sans Netflix

WalMart.com’s streaming service will perhaps become the catch-all for those consumers who want their home entertainment, but don’t want to pay more for the same content with Netflix. Currently, VUDU has in excess of 20,000 titles available for rent or purchase, yet no subscription model is currently in place. Consumers can buy DVDs or Blu-ray discs or rent discs for 48-hour periods. This is a different system from Netflix and competitor Amazon Prime.

Considering that Netflix did not make second quarter numbers available – and its stock prices have dropped significantly as a result – it seems Netflix may be headed for a fall.

Streaming video is growing on the public

The growing number of broadband Internet connections in the U.S. has made HD streaming video on demand quite popular, notes VUDU General Manager Edward Lichty. As Walmart already leads the pack in physical DVD and Blu-ray sales, the adoption of streaming on demand was a natural fit.

“This integration allows us to introduce more Walmart.com customers to digital entertainment and give them access to thousands of new releases and popular movie titles immediately through VUDU’s high-quality streaming service,” said Lichty in a media statement. “By incorporating digital movie content into the Walmart.com entertainment shopping experience, we’re enabling customers to easily choose how they want to enjoy their entertainment content.”

Gaining ground on iTunes

Walmart.com general manager Steve Nave affirmed the retailer’s commitment to streaming content, while digital media researcher Arash Amel acknowledged Wal-Mart has some catch-up in store.

“iTunes is the market leader in this field, accounting for approximately 65 percent of all movies and TV shows bought or rented over the Internet,” said Amel.

Amel told the Los Angeles Times that he doesn’t believe streaming video will replace physical discs any time soon, perhaps because the U.S. does not have a sufficient broadband backbone in place to handle the traffic streaming movies would create.

The VUDU/Walmart connection

Sources

Los Angeles Times: http://lat.ms/qrSQfR

Reuters: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/07/26/idUS81690531620110726

VUDU: http://www.vudu.com/difference.html

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