Vudu Disc to Digital

If you’re a hardcore cinephile, you probably have a huge library of movies on Blu-ray and DVD. Even as the market has shifted to push consumers to partake in digital downloads, I’ve continued to buy movies on disc because I like the physical representation of my library. Plus, most movies you buy on disc come with a digital copy anyway.

However, digital downloads have only risen in popularity since 2010, leaving plenty who had built large physical libraries of movies without an easy or inexpensive way to take their movies with them on mobile devices. But the video download service Vudu has just introduced a new disc-to-digital program allowing consumers to cheaply and easily convert their movie library to digital. Let’s take a look at what the new Vudu disc to digital program has to offer.

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Vudu’s New Disc to Digital Program

Vudu has had a disc to digital program in place with their parent company Walmart since 2012. Consumers could take their discs into participating Walmart locations to verify ownership, and after providing the e-mail associated with their Vudu account, a digital copy of the movie would be in their personal library.

This week, Vudu made it significantly easier for consumers to prove their ownership of a movie and pay for a digital copy. Within Vudu’s mobile app, you can now scan the barcode of nearly any movie from your physical library, and you can pay to get a digital copy in your Vudu library. Blu-ray copies can be converted to the high-definition HDX format for just $2 while a DVD can be converted to standard definition digital copy for $2 or upgraded to HDX for $5. If you want to try it for yourself, your first conversion, whether it’s from Blu-ray or DVD, is free.

If you’re wondering what’s to keep someone from just scanning a bunch of movies at a local store and getting digital copies on the cheap without actually owning them, the app must detect that you’re at or near the billing address that is linked to your Vudu account. Of course, there’s nothing stopping you from having a friend bring movies to your house, scanning them, and getting cheap movie downloads that way.

As someone who has lamented not having some of my physical movies available in digital form for use on mobile devices, whether it’s for business trips or vacations, this sounds like a great new deal. But it still has some shortcomings.

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The Downside of Vudu’s Disc to Digital Program

Even though Vudu has made converting discs to digital that much easier, there’s no guarantee that the video service won’t die off someday. Then what happens to your digital library? This is the problem with digital libraries in general. There’s always a chance that some video service will go belly up, and then all that money that has gone to building your digital library is gone. While something like the iTunes store isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, some other services may not be so lucky. That’s why I’ll always buy physical copies first.

Beyond that, Vudu isn’t the best digital download service out there. Their mobile apps are kind of clunky, and they’re a little less user friendly than something like the iTunes store. While there are apps in Apple’s App store for iOS, there is no app for Apple TV. If you happen to have an Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3 or PlayStation 4, you can access Vudu through there (seen above), but again, the application itself isn’t exactly a finely tuned piece of software.

Finally, if you happen to have any copies of movies where there are multiple movies in a single package, you might not be able to get digital copies. For example, I have Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II in a single Blu-ray package, and that barcode wouldn’t register as a title that can be downloaded through Vudu. Though this is a rare problem, it’s still something that keeps the service from being a little more convenient.

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The Way of the Future?

Is this something that we could see catch on as a new way for consumers to get digital copies of their movies? It doesn’t seem likely. Studios have already gotten money from consumers for the physical copy of the movie they bought, so their partnership with Vudu on this disc to digital program just gives them extra money for movies that their customers have already purchased. But I wouldn’t expect a similar program to come from a place like iTunes, since they’re not making any money off the physical discs you bought, and they lose money by giving you a digital download at a discount.

For the time being, Vudu seems like a great way for people with huge movie libraries to cherry pick which movies they’d like to take with them on the road. But as far as acting as a replacement for a physical movie library, I don’t think we’ve quite reached that point yet.

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