Wal-Mart today announced a partnership with all six major Hollywood Studios (Disney, Warner Brothers, Paramount, Sony, 20th Century Fox, and Universal) to offer digital movies and TV shows via its site: www.walmart.com/videodownloads. While the company has the first mover advantage (being the only digital distributor to go into business with all six studios), I still think Netflix is the company that will make online movie watching a reality (incidentally, Netflix is the company to which Wal-Mart admitted defeat in the DVD rental market). Here’s why:
Wal-Mart plans to sell its digital downloads from $12.88 to $19.88 on the day the DVD becomes available. In other words, all movies will be around the same price as the DVD equivalent found at Wal-Mart stores. Best case scenario, Wal-Mart may offer a discount if you buy the DVD and the digital download together. Wow, a discount if I pay twice for the same item.
Wal-Mart is entering a crowded marketplace, which already has Apple and Amazon (among others) trying similar models. All these companies seem to be stuck offering a solution to a problem I never had; I actually like the DVD and need a big reason to use something else for my movie watching, let alone pay for it.
I said it before, and I’ll say it again: all the major vendors are coming out with formats that only work in this or that way but cost this much. I only want to use this new technology (which I don’t necessarily need) if it’s part of what I’m already paying for. And Netflix is the only company offering it this way.
While online video interests me, I’m still not willing to pay for something that’s one big experiment. So Netflix it is. The only company that offers legitimate movies and shows online for no additional charge, as an enhancement to what I was already paying a fair price for: online DVD rentals.