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.