Wal-Mart Releasing Movie Downloads Versus TiVo Adding Commercials

TivologoWalmartlogo Both Wal-Mart and TiVo had some big news today in the area of trying to commercialize the latest advances in digital media. Wal-Mart released its movie download service with a twist: you have to buy the DVD. But for a few bucks extra, you get a download too. TiVo decided to sell advertising space at the end of recorded programs and track how many people watch them. So the question of the day is:

Which of these new services is more likely to succeed (or fail)?

Wal-Mart

Wal-Mart’s flagship offer is the “Superman Returns” physical DVD bundles with a coupon code that will let customers choose from three video download format options: $1.97 for portable devices, $2.97 for PCs/laptops, and $3.97 for both portable players and PC/laptops. First mistake: You have to go to the store or wait for the delivery of the DVD (if ordered online) before you can make the download. If anything, I’d rather get a coupon for the DVD to come in the mail after I download what I want right now.

Tip for Wal-Mart: Before jumping on the digital download bandwagon, give me a way to take advantage of it without going shopping or waiting for a shipment. My favorite part in the press release is how Wal-Mart explains “customers can also begin watching the movie while it downloads.” Wow, after already having the DVD and possibly having waited for it to arrive in the mail, you mean I don’t have to WAIT to start watching the download? Amazing.

Apparently Wal-Mart will be releasing (not yet)  a “beta version” of a video download service, which will feature both movies and TV shows. We’ll take a look when the time comes…

TiVo

The maker of digital video recorders today announced it would insert ads after a television show has played. This will supposedly offer a way for advertisers to reach audiences who record shows and are likely to skip through traditional commercials.

Does anyone else find irony in the idea that the company that empowered the consumer to skip commercials is, in fact, now trying to get the consumer to watch them? The service is being called “Program Placement” and allows advertisers to buy ads for specific shows like they do for regular television. So far several companies have signed up including Burger King, General Motors, and MasterCard.

TiVo said it will give advertisers in the new program access to data it gathers on how consumers react to the new ads so that they’ll be able to track how many viewers actually play the ads. My guess? Not many. Again, I’m confused by the concept of consumers that are known for skipping commercials watching them when they are at an even easier place to skip: the end.

So which company has it worse (or better) with today’s press releases?