Wal-Mart offers video streaming on website

Thursday, July 28, 2011
Back of a Blu-ray Disc. I took this.

Image via Wikipedia

The world's largest retailer started streaming many movies the same day they come out on DVD, in a second bid for a share of popular movie rental and streaming website Netflix Inc's business and just two weeks after Netflix announced new price increases.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. bought video-streaming service Vudu.com 18 months ago and now offers 20,000 titles that can be viewed on almost any device with Internet access, from computers to televisions to Sony's PlayStation3 and other Blu-Ray disc players.

Movies are available at Walmart.com to rent for $1 to $5.99 or to purchase for $4.99 and up. Wal-Mart is not offering subscriptions, making its service more similar to Apple Inc.'s iTunes, which charges $3.99 to rent newly released movies and $14.99 to buy a movie.

In addition to Netflix, another competitor streaming movies and TV shows by subscription is Hulu.com, which now offers a premium service for $7.99 a month with more back-season shows and more movies. Without a subscription, Hulu viewers can watch shows and movies free in exchange for watching advertising.

The movie offering fits with the Wal-Mart website's strategy of offering a "seamless continuous shopping service," said Steve Nave, senior vice president and general manager of Walmart.com.

Wal-Mart's announcement comes on the heels of Netflix saying it will raise rates and charge separately for streaming and rental DVDs. Its second price hike in eight months, Netflix's planned increases could amount to 60 percent for existing customers, starting September 1. New subscribers have to pay the new prices immediately.

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