Wal-Mart to Give Hollywood a Hand - In Store Registration of DVDs into UltraViolet - High-Def Digest Forums
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Old 02-28-2012, 05:49 AM
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Default Wal-Mart to Give Hollywood a Hand - In Store Registration of DVDs into UltraViolet

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WSJ
TECHNOLOGY FEBRUARY 28, 2012

Wal-Mart to Give Hollywood a Hand

By MICHELLE KUNG And MIGUEL BUSTILLO

The movie industry is recruiting Wal-Mart Stores Inc. to help attract users to its struggling online video-library service, Hollywood's latest step to combat the challenges of digital piracy and a fading DVD market.

Wal-Mart is in discussions to provide an in-store service that will assist customers in registering DVDs they already own with the movie industry's UltraViolet system, according to several people familiar with the matter.

The UltraViolet system, which has been slow getting off the ground, is a digital "proof of purchase" system that allows a consumer to store movie or TV titles in a free, online personal library. Once a video has been added to the UltraViolet Library it can be streamed over the Web or downloaded for viewing on a computer, TV, or a range of mobile devices.

UltraViolet, which is backed by a group of more than 70 entertainment, technology and retail companies, was announced in January 2011, but so far has only about one million users in the country.

The industry's hope is that, with UltraViolet, it can encourage consumers to pay for content they might be tempted to download illegally from the Web.

While UltraViolet accounts are free to set up, the initial process has been criticized as cumbersome. That's where Wal-Mart comes in.

Employees of Wal-Mart will help customers create UltraViolet accounts, according to the people familiar with the plan. Wal-Mart staff will also check DVDs that shoppers already own, adding titles that are part of UltraViolet system to their accounts for a small fee, the people said. Wal-Mart is a member of the UltraViolet consortium.


The Wal-Mart service is expected to include several thousand movies, drawn from every major studio except Walt Disney Co., which isn't a member of the coalition behind UltraViolet. The disc-to-digital service is to be offered in the photo-printing area of many, if not all, U.S. Wal-Mart stores. An announcement is expected in early March, followed by a $30 million marketing campaign. It isn't clear when the service would begin operating.


A Wal-Mart spokeswoman declined to comment except to say: "We're supportive of the UV coalition and are still thinking through how this technology can come to life in our stores and benefit our customers."

Aside from the fact that Wal-Mart stores are visited 140 million times each week in the U.S., a Wal-Mart partnership is attractive to the UltraViolet group because of the retailer's popular Vudu streaming service. Wal-Mart bought Vudu last year for a reported $100 million and the service has become the third most popular film rental and download service, according to researcher IHS Inc. This puts Vudu ahead of similar offerings from Amazon.com Inc. and Sony Corp.

The potential Wal-Mart deal is part of a broader effort by the industry to hold on to revenue it is losing to both illegal and legitimate competition, such as some online storage lockers that play fast and loose with copyright law. At the same time, technology companies, including Google Inc. and Apple Inc., have moved into the market for streaming entertainment with their popular YouTube and iTunes services, taking a cut of the revenue from each movie or TV show streamed.

The pain has been felt by Hollywood in the form of plunging DVD sales. In 2011, DVD and Blu-ray sales totaled $9 billion, a 10% decline from the previous year. The figure is 36% off the 2004 peak of $14.1 billion, according to research firm IHS Screen Digest..

The consortium also is talking with Best Buy Co., a member of the UltraViolet group, about introducing a similar service at the electronics retailer's stores, the people familiar with the UltraViolet's plans said.


A Best Buy representative declined to comment.

UltraViolet is run by the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem LLC, which includes five of the six major film studios: Time Warner Inc.'s Warner Brothers Entertainment, Sony Corp.'s Sony Pictures, News Corp.'s Twentieth Century Fox, Comcast Corp's Universal Pictures and Viacom Inc.'s Paramount Pictures. (News Corp. owns The Wall Street Journal.)

The first UltraViolet-enabled titles began appearing in October 2011, but analysts say the subscriber base isn't growing fast enough to offset slumping DVD sales.

"It's going to take a long time" for UltraViolet to catch on, said Michael Nathanson, an analyst at Nomura, an investment bank.

One of UltraViolet's initial stumbling blocks was a limited selection of titles. Just two movies, "Horrible Bosses" and "Green Lantern," were available the first week of release. Since then, fewer than 100 new titles have been made available But the number of titles is expected to grow exponentially this year.

The service also suffered from glitch-prone technology. Codes given to early adopters didn't work properly, bruising UltraViolet's reputation early on.

Some customers complained the system is confusing to use because it requires an UltraViolet account and one for each company providing movies and TV shows. For example, customers need accounts for both UltraViolet and Flixster, a Website owned by a Time Warner subsidiary in order to watch "Green Lantern." Each company sets UltraViolet prices individually and they tend to be more expensive than DVDs, discouraging cost-conscious viewers.

Other customers say the streaming format limits where they can watch movies and potentially raises the cost if they have to use a cellular connection.

"If I want to watch one of my movies in an area where I don't have WiFi, I have to use 3G," Joe Siegler, an UltraViolet customer in Garland, Texas, wrote in an email, referring to cellular networks. "It will penalize me for using up my data caps quite quickly."

Mark Teitell, general manager and executive director, DECE, acknowledges the challenges and says the consortium is working on a one-account system. But he hasn't said when it will launch. He also said all new DVD and Blu-ray releases by participating studios will be UltraViolet-compatible by the end of the year.

UltraViolet currently isn't compatible with Apple's iTunes, the most popular digital entertainment platform.

"So far, I'm not sure it's proven to be as robust as expected or as consumer friendly as we had hoped," said Disney Chief Executive Bob Iger during a recent earnings call with analysts. Disney's lack of participation has been another hurdle for the program.

The industry hopes the partnership with Wal-Mart will give it an opportunity to introduce more customers to UltraViolet, the people familiar with the situation said.

The UltraViolet consortium has previously said it is working with Samsung Electronics and other hardware makers to develop Blu-ray players that prompt consumer to create UltraViolet accounts when registered titles are played.


—Ethan Smith and Stu Woo contributed to this article.
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000...googlenews_wsj
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Old 02-28-2012, 09:51 AM
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LOL, so we will have to work with Walmart employees in the photo department to help us navigate through Ultraviolet??

This has fail written all over it.
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Old 02-28-2012, 09:52 AM
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So let me get this straight...I take my 50 DVDs from home, drive to the nearest Walmart on my $4 gas, somehow get through the greeter at the front of Walmart who thinks I just stole a bag full of DVDs...then I proceed to the photo area - cause that makes sense - and no doubt the helpful and knowledgeable Walmart crew will know exactly what I am talking about and how to do it. Easy peezy.

Then, at say $1/DVD (likely more for HD), I get a minimum $50 bill at the end of it (closer to $200-300 for HD UV)? But I now have the luxury of having a UV copy?

Who do they think is going to do this? This is the future? Hauling DVDs into a brick and mortar store only to have to pay more money for digital versions??

Good luck with this Hollywood. Hilarious. I am sure people will be just lining up, chomping at the bit.
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Old 02-28-2012, 09:54 AM
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Originally Posted by ack_bak View Post
LOL, so we will have to work with Walmart employees in the photo department to help us navigate through Ultraviolet??

This has fail written all over it.
Hollywood is relying on Best Buy and Walmart employees to run UV. Question - have they ever been to a Walmart or Best Buy?

Hollywood would be better off sending their own representatives to each store to run this.
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Old 02-28-2012, 09:56 AM
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Originally Posted by rroberts View Post
So let me get this straight...I take my 50 DVDs from home, drive to the nearest Walmart on my $4 gas, somehow get through the greeter at the front of Walmart who thinks I just stole a bag full of DVDs...then I proceed to the photo area - cause that makes sense - and no doubt the helpful and knowledgeable Walmart crew will know exactly what I am talking about and how to do it. Easy peezy.

Then, at say $1/DVD (likely more for HD), I get a minimum $50 bill at the end of it (closer to $200-300 for HD UV)? But I now have the luxury of having a UV copy?

Who do they think is going to do this? This is the future? Hauling DVDs into a brick and mortar store only to have to pay more money for digital versions??

Good luck with this Hollywood. Hilarious. I am sure people will be just lining up, chomping at the bit.
It boggles the mind that people in Hollywood think this will turn home video around.. Honestly. Ultraviolet is going to fail if Hollywood does not figure this out quick. The people running Ultraviolet must be getting desperate too, because everything you just described does not pass the sniff test...
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Old 02-28-2012, 10:03 AM
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Originally Posted by ack_bak View Post
It boggles the mind that people in Hollywood think this will turn home video around.. Honestly. Ultraviolet is going to fail if Hollywood does not figure this out quick. The people running Ultraviolet must be getting desperate too, because everything you just described does not pass the sniff test...
It's like an obstacle course where you have to run through quicksand and jump barbed wire fences. In others words - completely ridiculous.

The only way this would even be remotely attractive is if the UV copies were free. You already bought the movie. Yet they want you to pay more. Shocker.

The consumer has all of the burden here. They have to drive to Walmart with a handful of DVDs, take the time and STILL pay $$!! Only Hollywood would think this is viable.

These executives are making millions to come up with this crap? What a job!
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Old 02-28-2012, 10:08 AM
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Originally Posted by rroberts View Post
It's like an obstacle course where you have to run through quicksand and jump barbed wire fences. In others words - completely ridiculous.

The only way this would even be remotely attractive is if the UV copies were free. You already bought the movie. Yet they want you to pay more. Shocker.

The consumer has all of the burden here. They have to drive to Walmart with a handful of DVDs, take the time and STILL pay $$!! Only Hollywood would think this is viable.

These executives are making millions to come up with this crap? What a job!
I don't pirate movies. I don't condone it. But Hollywood is setting itself up for failure here. They need to understand what they are up against, and Walmart photolab technicians are not the answer to the problem. Especially for a fee.
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Old 02-28-2012, 10:19 AM
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Originally Posted by ack_bak View Post
I don't pirate movies. I don't condone it. But Hollywood is setting itself up for failure here. They need to understand what they are up against, and Walmart photolab technicians are not the answer to the problem. Especially for a fee.
I saw a recent report that they want $1 for SD and $5 for HD.

$5!!!

20 DVDs would could an extra $100 to get a digital UV HD copy.

They must be smoking some good stuff if they think that will fly.
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Old 02-28-2012, 11:02 AM
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LOL, I love this quote:

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While UltraViolet accounts are free to set up, the initial process has been criticized as cumbersome. That's where Wal-Mart comes in.

Employees of Wal-Mart will help customers create UltraViolet accounts, according to the people familiar with the plan. Wal-Mart staff will also check DVDs that shoppers already own, adding titles that are part of UltraViolet system to their accounts for a small fee, the people said. Wal-Mart is a member of the UltraViolet consortium.
LOL, I still cannot get over this. Someone honestly thinks that if something is too complicated for a user at home who has an interest in Ultraviolet and cannot figure it out, that a Walmart photolab technician will sort it all out?? Oh my....

Apple had the genius bar, Ultraviolet has the Walmart photolab...

Yikes...
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Old 02-28-2012, 03:33 PM
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This entire concept sounds flaky.

Maybe it will work out better in practice or with consumers with small DVD collections, but at those price points it sounds ridiculous.

I'll much rather take a player at home that automatically scans my disc and gives me UV rights for free or a small fee than this song and dance.

But Best Buy reportedly has had success with consumers trading in DVDs and games as have other places so what do I know.
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