For those wondering what might come of Walmart (s WMT) acquiring over-the-top video company VUDU, here’s the first big move.
Tomorrow, when Pixar’s (s DIS) Toy Story 3 becomes available on DVD and Blu-ray, any consumer who buys a disc at a Walmart store will receive a code to watch the film to any VUDU-enabled device, including a number of connected Blu-ray players, HDTVs and home theater systems as well as, most recently, the upcoming Boxee box. According to a post on the VUDU blog, “The future of media has officially arrived, and it is awesome!”
This isn’t the first time a similar deal has been offered to consumers; Amazon, (s AMZN) for example, launched a promotional offer last December that allowed buyers to immediately download any title they’d just purchased on DVD or Blu-ray.
However, it is the first time that Walmart is making direct use of its VUDU deal — which, Peter Kafka reported last February, cost Wal-mart over $100 million in cash — and may lead to similar offers beyond Toy Story 3.
Will this be a step forward for digital distribution, though? Given the general attitude among many industry leaders that physical media is on its way out, this move seems like a smart way to introduce consumers to new content platforms.
But by requiring the purchase of a DVD or Blu-ray, Walmart may be holding on too hard to a dying medium. While the VUDU acquisition does show that Walmart is looking to the future, it remains to be seen what direction this move will take.
Related GigaOm Pro Content (subscription required):