Walmart is launching a new challenge to Netflix, just as the popular DVD-by-mail and video-streaming service is facing a subscriber revolt over a recent fee hike. Walmart is integrating the Vudu streaming service, which it bought in 2010, into its website, enabling customers to buy DVDs and Blu-rays, or watch streaming movies and TV shows, through Walmart.com. The retail giant's streaming service isn't subscription-based — viewers will pay between $1 and $5.99 to rent each movie. While many competitors have tried to knock Netflix off its throne, will Walmart be the one to finally succeed?
Walmart could pull it off: The timing couldn't be better for Walmart, says Max Eddy at Geekosystem. Not only is Netflix's future looking "increasingly uncertain" in the wake of disappointing earnings and subscriber anger, but other big-name competitors — including Apple and Amazon — are also looking weak. If Walmart can bring its massive stable of customers on board, "it could become quite the powerhouse."
"Walmart's Vudu video streaming assault begins"
This will hardly seduce unhappy Netflix subscribers: Walmart's "wonky" and dissatisfying pricing scheme is a mistake, says Faith Merino at Vator News. Individual one- to two-day rental downloads cost $3.99 to $5.99 a pop for new releases. That's unlikely to "lure away disgruntled Netflix customers." After all, the whole reason they're mad is that their subscriptions for unlimited downloads has jumped to $7.99 a month.
"Netflix beware, Walmart jumps into streaming movies"
Plus, Walmart has tried (and failed) before: Let's not forget: "Walmart's two prior forays into the movie download business didn't work out," says Parija Kavilanz at CNNMoney. The retail giant launched, then abandoned, a video download subscription service in 2005, instead directing customers to Netflix. And it tried another download service, in partnership with Hollywood studios and Hewlett Packard, in 2006, but that didn't last a year. "Walmart must be hoping that the third time's a charm."
"Walmart takes another shot at streaming movies"