Amazon One-Ups Walmart, Expands Disc+ Program

Amazon (s AMZN) is expanding its Disc+ On Demand program, which allows users who purchase a DVD to instantly download it online, now making it available for more than 10,000 titles. The news comes just a day after Walmart (s WMT) dipped its toes in the optical-plus-digital fray with a promotion that allows buyers of Toy Story 3 to also stream the movie through its wholly owned Vudu service.

When a customer buys an eligible DVD from Amazon, the digital version instantly appears in their Amazon Video On Demand library. If they get a rental version of the digital copy, it can be downloaded within 30 days of the initial disc purchase; if it’s a purchased digital copy, it will be in their library forever. All digital titles can be viewed on the user’s computer or through more than 200 different connected devices, such as TVs, Blu-ray players, TiVo (s TIVO) DVRs, Roku broadband set-top boxes, or Google TV-enabled (s goog) devices from Sony (s SNE) and Logitech. (s LOGI)

Amazon has enabled its customers to download digital copies of discs they purchase since late last year, but the list of available titles that were part of the program were fairly limited. That’s now changed, as the offering is now available for thousands of titles. The expansion of the program could draw some interest from videophiles that want instant gratification, or perhaps just want to own a digital version of the file out in the cloud, as backup.

For now, that will be a fairly niche market. But as my colleague Liz Shannon Miller noted yesterday, programs like Amazon’s Disc+ On Demand service and Walmart’s Toy Story 3 promotion might be ways to introduce consumers to new ways of viewing content online and (increasingly) through connected TV sets and other devices. With optical discs on their way out, it’s more important than ever for retailers like Walmart and Amazon to attract new business by introducing digital forms of delivery.

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