Thursday, July 28, 2011


Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has added streaming movies to its website as the world's largest retailer attempts to grab a bigger share of the online movie market from rival service Netflix Inc.

The decision to offer movie sales and rentals through comes just two weeks after Netflix raised prices for the majority of its customers. The price hike provoked howls of protest from consumers and disappointing subscriber growth projections, leading to a significant drop in Netflix's stock price.

Wal-Mart, long the nation's leading seller of DVDs, signaled its intent to double down on digital movie distribution in February 2010, when it spent a reported $100 million to acquire Vudu, a Silicon Valley start-up that was gradually being added to home entertainment devices.

Since the acquisition, Vudu has been able to leverage the giant retailer's clout with manufacturers to incorporate is service into more than 300 consumer electronics products, including Internet-connected television sets, Blu-ray disc players and the Sony PlayStation 3 game console.

This spring, Vudu began offering movie rentals and purchases via the Web, through, positioning the service to better compete with the likes of, Apple Inc.'s iTunes or Blockbuster.

Offering 20,000 movie titles for rental and purchase through Wal-Mart's website, which attracts about 40 million monthly visitors, is a further step in that direction. It better positions the retailer to take on established online players, as well as traditional competitors such as Best Buy, which last may bought digital video service CinemaNow.

On Wal-Mart's website, the movies will be available the same day the DVDs go on sale in stores. Rental prices range from 99 cents to $5.99. Digital purchases are priced from $4.99 to $24.99.

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