Wal-Mart Gets Into Movie Download Business – Films and TV shows Will Be Sold For Less Than Apple iTunes – Amazon Also Jumps Into

Wal-Mart Gets Into Movie Download Business – Films and TV shows Will Be Sold For Less Than Apple iTunes – Amazon Also Jumps Into Downloads

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Wal-Mart has already been in the music download business, but on Tuesday the retail giant has gone into the movie download business as well. So far their beta version is only offering around 3,000 movies and TV shows, but Wal-Mart hopes to add more content to their list.

Their repertoire includes movies from all of the major studios and some TV networks, including Fox Broadcasting. So far they have not included shows from ABC, CBS or NBC, but plans to assimilate them as well.

They sold their music downloads at a lower cost compared to rivals including Apple, and will likely do the same with their movies. So far many studios have resisted offering their movies through iTunes because Apple insisted on listing all of their movies for one price. Apple has only signed The Walt Disney Co. and Viacom Inc.'s Paramount Studios.

Wal-Mart agreed to the multi-price option and has begun offering films starting at $7.50 compared to Apple’s lowest price film of $9.99. Wal-Mart currently accounts for 40 percent of all physical DVDs sold in the USA.

Gary Gentile of the Associated Press says that the biggest impact of Wal-Mart's entry into the digital download business may be that it now frees studios to cut deals with other online services. "It gets the ball rolling finally," said Tom Adams of Adams Media Research. "Now the studios are free to pursue it as aggressively as they can without worries about what Wal-Mart is going to think."

Amazon.com has already jumped into the business in what they are calling “unbox” videos. Amazon says high-quality video downloads are the next big thing. They already have a huge affiliate network ready to go with this type of operation.

Gina Keating of Reuters says that Wal-Mart’s entry into the downloading business should have a bigger impact on the growth of digital video distribution in the near term than on the ultimate decline in DVD sales. This move comes about two years after the company got out of the online rental service and directed their customers to Netflix. About that time they protested Walt Disney move to sell movies on Apple’s iTunes online music store at below-retail prices.

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BY John Waters
Best Syndication Business Writer

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