Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has launched its long-awaited online movie download store, entering a market that has yet to catch on with consumers but is expected to grow rapidly.
A “beta” version of the online video store, which debuted Tuesday, sells digital versions of about 3,000 films and television episodes from all the major studios and some TV networks, including Fox Broadcasting. Wal-Mart will not initially offer content from ABC, CBS or NBC, although the company said it hopes to add shows from those networks.
The nation’s largest retailer is using its buying power to beat the prices charged by other download services in many cases, offering films from $12.88 to $19.88 and individual TV episodes for $1.96 _ 4 cents less than Apple Inc.’s iTunes store.
Apple charges less for some films sold on iTunes _ $12.99 when pre-ordered and during the first week of sale, or $14.99 afterward. But it only carries films from two studios, The Walt Disney Co. and Viacom Inc.’s Paramount Studios.
Most studios have resisted signing deals with iTunes in part because of Apple’s desire to sell movies at one price. Studios prefer variable pricing such as Wal-Mart is offering.