Netflix Takes Over Wal-Mart DVD Rentals

Netflix Takes Over Wal-Mart DVD Rentals – New York Times (AP)

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is turning over its online DVD rental business to Netflix Inc., signaling that the world’s largest retailer couldn’t beat the Internet upstart at its own game. Netflix shares surged after the agreement was announced Thursday, rising $2.61, or 17 percent, to $18.11 in midday on the Nasdaq Stock Market.

Wal-Mart is offering its existing online DVD rental customers the chance to continue their subscriptions with Los Gatos-based Netflix at their current price for the next year. Those who don’t sign up with Netflix by June 17 will lose their service. Wal-Mart plans to continue promoting the Netflix service on its Web site. In return, Netflix will remind its subscribers that they can buy DVDs from

The companies didn’t disclose how many customers Netflix will inherit nor the financial terms of their partnership. About 70 percent of Wal-Mart’s DVD rental customers pay $12.97 per month for the right to check out up to two titles at a time. Most Netflix customers pay $17.99 per month for three titles at a time. Wal-Mart charges $17.36 per month for three titles

Wal-Mart is believed to have fewer than 100,000 online DVD subscribers, said industry analyst Dennis McAlpine of McAlpine Associates. ”This is a nice deal for Netflix, but it still doesn’t mean Netflix will win the game,” he said.

Quite amazing, really. Netflix had a huge head start in this enterprise but Wal-Mart has massive buying power and a ubiquitous distribution system. Of course, Wal-Mart hardly took advantage of its economies of scale, charging essentially what Netflix was on a per-DVD basis.

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James Joyner
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James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. bryan says:

    Wow, I didn’t even know wal-mart had a DVD rental system online.