In an effort to drive their movie sales and maintain a hold on the market, Wal-Mart has partnered up with the “Big Six” film studios for their new “Video Downloads Store.” If you’re not familiar with the Big Six, it includes Walt Disney, Warner Brothers, Paramount, Sony, 20th Century Fox and Universal – the power-houses of the industry. By launching this service, Wal-Mart has not only beat iTunes to the punch, but services like Netflix as well (in that they’re launching 3,000 titles compared to Netflix’s 1,000). The main issue here is that *for now*, the movies are only being distributed in WMV, so it can be locked down with DRM. The videos will only be viewable on up to 3 PCs running Windows XP and IE6 or greater.
According to Gizmodo, the videos will be downloadable in both a PC format and portable format. The PC format is “near DVD quality” – with a bit rate of around 1.3-1.6 Mbps, and the portable quality hasn’t been specified. Wal-Mart also mentioned that the Video Downloads Store is not meant to cannibalize in-store purchases. This is very evident through their pricing scheme.
Movies will run you from $12.88 to $19.88 at the time a DVD is released, and older movies will start at $7.50. Also, the downloadable versions will be offered as a supplement to in-store purchases similar to what they did with Superman Returns back at launch. When you buy a DVD in a Wal-Mart store, it will come with a code to download the portable version for a discounted price of $1.97, PC version for $2.97, and both for $3.97.
Since its glorious appearance earlier today, it rid itself of a stylesheet and is all jacked up. Hopefully when you take a look it will be back up for good.
Update: The service works in IE, silly me for using Firefox. Apparently they want Firefox users to be completely confused when a page of jumble comes up instead of giving a message that says “IE Only.”