Cloud-based “digital locker” UltraViolet got off to a rather underwhelming start last fall, but it’s now about to get a huge boost from one of the country’s biggest retailers. Walmart has just joined the industrywide initiative, and is now set to debut a new in-store service that will convert DVDs and Blu-rays to digital files at the rate of $2 a pop. Standard definition discs can also be upgraded to high definition, for $5 a title. The copies will then be accessible for streaming or downloading via Vudu, a Walmart-owned online content delivery service. More details after the jump.

Walmart is working in partnership with five major studios, Paramount Home Media Distribution, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, Universal Studios Home Entertainment and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. Walt Disney Pictures, which reportedly plans to launch its own digital locker service, is not participating. Customers will be required to register a free Vudu account in order to access their digital movies. Walmart will roll out its disc-to-digital feature in over 3,500 Walmart stores starting April 16, and plans to promote it through a multi-month marketing campaign teaching consumers about the benefits of disc-to-digital and how to use it.

Part of what UltraViolet struggled with early on was consumers’ unfamiliarity with cloud-based storage, as well as the over-complicated process of obtaining the digital copies. Walmart’s service should go a long way toward fixing those issues, even for less tech-savvy consumers — and therefore, Walmart hopes, encourage physical media sales.

Though the big-box retailer now holds the exclusive right to offer an in-store service converting discs to digital, it won’t be the last company to try and work out a way to link the two formats. Those unable or unwilling to head to Walmart can keep an eye on developments at Samsung, which has recently announced plans to release a Blu-ray player that will do the work of transferring UltraViolet-enabled discs to digital files.

[Sources: WalmartVariety, Deadline]

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