Wal-Mart Backs Hollywood's UltraViolet System

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Wal-Mart announced an online video partnership with most of the major Hollywood movie studios on Tuesday. The idea is to make it easier for people to legally watch and share movies digitally.


One of the world's largest retailers is getting together with eight of Hollywood's biggest movie studios. The idea is to make it easier for people to legally watch and share movies digitally.

NPR's Neda Ulaby reports on Wal-Mart's support for the studios' floundering system called UltraViolet.

NEDA ULABY, BYLINE: UltraViolet kicked off last year with this movie, "Horrible Bosses."


ACTOR: (as character) Why don't you kill each other's bosses?

ACTOR #2: (as character) That's actually a good idea.

ULABY: UltraViolet sounded like a fabulous idea to studio executives terrified of following the music industry into the abyss of piracy and plummeting sales.

UltraViolet would create a digital movie library in the cloud, let you share movies you bought, legally to a tiny group of friends, and finally, allow you to watch them on any device you want.

But critics said UltraViolet was too complicated. So during yesterday's announcement of the new deal with Wal-Mart, you heard one word a lot - simple.

JOHN ADEN: The service is simple.

ULABY: John Aden is a Wal-Mart executive. He says all you have to do is drive to Wal-Mart, bring DVDs you already have or buy them there, and the store will help load them into your own private digital library.

ADEN: Customers can choose to do a standard conversion for $2.

ULABY: Or put them in the cloud in high-def for five.

Tech Analyst Mike McGuire is skeptical about how simple this really is.

MIKE MCGUIRE: Yeah, it could be good, it could be, I guess, positive for a section of the consumer base that's still not comfortable with computers.

ULABY: But computer savvy and younger people may be a better base if you want a real sea change in how people get, watch and share movies legally.

Neda Ulaby, NPR News.

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