Walmart’s Vudu Mobile App Will Let You Scan DVDs to Convert Them to Digital Copies — But There’s a Catch

vudu Mobile Disc-to-Digital
Courtesy of Vudu

Conversion feature, which costs $2 or $5 per disc, works only from customer's home address

Vudu, Walmart’s premium video-streaming service, will now let people “convert” DVD and Blu-ray Disc collections into digital copies — which they can then watch on hundreds of different internet-connected devices — using their smartphones.

The new Vudu Mobile Disc-to-Digital feature allows customers to scan the UPC bar code on a DVD or Blu-ray case using the service’s app, then pay to gain access the movie on Vudu’s streaming service. The feature is slated to go live in the Vudu apps for iOS and Android on Thursday, March 23, at 12 p.m. ET.

But there’s a key catch: Customers must be physically located at their home billing address in order for the disc-to-digital conversion to work from their phones. That’s an anti-fraud measure designed to ensure someone actually owns the DVD — and is not, say, running willy-nilly through the aisles of a Walmart store scanning bar codes. Vudu’s app uses GPS to verify a user’s location and make sure it matches the address on file. In addition, the mobile-conversion feature will be capped at 100 titles per year for each account.

Meanwhile, the feature isn’t free, although Vudu users will receive one complimentary first-time mobile conversion. Customers can convert a DVD to standard-definition digital or a Blu-ray disc to HD digital for $2 each. To upgrade DVDs to HD, Vudu will charge $5 per title.

And there’s another gotcha: Disney is not participating in the Vudu Mobile Disc-to-Digital program. The feature is available for close to 8,000 movies from Lionsgate, Paramount Home Media Distribution, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. Vudu says it will add more titles in the coming months.

Movies available to convert with the Vudu Mobile Disc-to-Digital service include the “Lord of the Rings,” “Harry Potter” and “Jason Bourne” franchises; older films like “Top Gun” and “The Godfather”; comedies like “The Hangover” and “Planes, Trains and Automobiles”; animated films including “Kung Fu Panda” and “The Lorax”; and romances like “The Notebook.”

Vudu’s Mobile Disc-to-Digital is similar to the in-home Disc-to-Digital service it has offered for several years; that uses a PC’s DVD drive to scan a disc to verify ownership before it’s made available digitally. Vudu also offers InstaWatch, which automatically sends customers a digital copy of eligible DVDs or Blu-ray discs purchased at Walmart stores and on Walmart.com.

The aim for Vudu is to provide a convenient way for consumers to upgrade their physical movie collections to digital (and, of course, for Vudu to profit from that). According to the company, the average movie collector owns nearly 100 DVDs and Blu-rays. “We know these customers have invested a lot into building their physical movie collections,” said Vudu GM Jeremy Verba. “As more and more customers create digital libraries, we are constantly looking for ways to help them unlock additional value from the movies they already own.”

Founded in 2004, Vudu was acquired by Walmart in 2010. Vudu is based in Sunnyvale, Calif., while the retailer’s Walmart.com and e-commerce teams are based in San Bruno.

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  1. E Hill says:

    The new scan service doesn’t work – it doesn’t scan the titles that are eligible for conversion and unlike the old disc to digital conversion which provided a list of titles you could purportedly convert (which didn’t work 9/10 times), you have no idea if its not working due to the scan or if the title is ineligible. If you have an issue with a charge at VUDU, they won’t respond and if you then dispute the charge with your credit card bank, they SUSPEND YOUR ACCOUNT after giving them $5 per DVD to build your library. I will never give them any more of my money.

  2. ks1986 says:

    I’m surprised they are allowing you to simply scan a barcode as this is SO EASY to fake and just get a $2 movie without owning a physical copy originally. You can scan your friends movies, scan movies in the store…you can even look up a product listings, copy the upc, and use a free UPC generator to make a barcode to just scan right off your computer screen. Tested and it works.

  3. You don’t need this nonsense. It’s just another way for studios to control what you own, how you own it, and where and when you can watch it at their price and convenience not yours.

    Want to know why there is pirating? Because of money making schemes like this. I literally own over 3000 DVD’s and Blu-rays, bought and paid for. And for the studios, the money I poured into them just isn’t enough. It’s always pay more, pay more, pay more. But I pay once, and only once.

    But yet, I have put my entire library on my own home digital network, and can watch any one of those TV shows or movies that I bought and paid for anywhere in the house at the push of a button. And it’s not that hard to do. It’s why I feel no need to purchase digital copies either. Studios should wise up and once you purchase something, let you do with it what you damn well please. That’s my philosophy.

  4. If you can only use this “mobile app scan” at home whats the point of it being mobile? and like before whats to stop someone from switching their address to a dvd store then switching it back when they are done? Not that it works in the first place. A lot of people can even it get it to scan their barcodes right.

    • jedi77 says:

      The conversion must be done at home. After that you can watch the film digitally wherever you want.

      • Jesse says:

        Your location must match the billing address on the credit card you used to pay for the conversion. And yes, once the conversion is done it works like any other Vudu Digital copy-it can be watched anywhere you can watch any of your Vudu digital movies.

  5. dipitydo says:

    What is to stop you from using WalMart’s address as your own?

  6. So what says:

    This has been available to consumers for years. Many people get a Redbox and record it, and they’ve only spent $1.50 for that movie. And if I wanted, I could give 10 copies to friends. But the second I ask for a quarter for each copy I’m breaking the law. Did I miss anything?

    • CDK says:

      Yeah, most technical people don’t know how to rip. And many are confused by the legality of it bc technically you shouldn’t be ripping unless you own and it’s for your personal backup. This allows non-techies to stream, and, sell all those pesky discs cluttering the house.

  7. Shandy says:

    I have this app as well as hundreds–no, probably more like several thousand VHS tapes and DVDs/Blu-rays. If the app cost a flat amount and would then miraculously convert all your tapes and discs for free, including ALL bonus material, so that you could then sell your physical collections…that would be useful…but…heh. =\ Just to convert for the heck of it, at $2-5 a pop? Not sure why people would need that. Most discs now come with digital copies anyway, so once you own it physically you also own it digitally…and as for all the older stuff…the physical copies are just fine. Unless it’s something you REALLY have to be able to bring with you somewhere you don’t have a player for it, I’m trying to figure out the point…

    • CDK says:

      I use the service because VUDU has tons of additional deals Amazon and iTunes never have. I’ve replaced all my discs with streaming and the house is less cluttered bc of it. And, I can stream on my mobile without having to bring a portable player along on trips. Does it suck spending for something you already own – yes. But, the desktop version gives you 50% off on your first ten conversions, and, I’ve found deal sites where I can buy the code for cheaper than renting. I used to hope they’d give you all your conversions for a flat fee, but that doesn’t make business sense from their angle.

      • shandy says:

        I see. That’s cool, especially the not having to bring the portable player. And the codes.
        All our discs and tapes are neatly shelved, so clutter’s not really an issue, except for the occasional dusting off. xp

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