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TelevisionWeek contributing writer Daisy Whitney is blogging about the pinnacles and pitfalls facing viewers who want to consume television in new ways. Check in frequently as Daisy kicks the tires on the new media juggernaut and dishes on which services do -- and don’t -- make the cut.

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Trial and Error



Wal-Mart Download Service Actually Works

February 6, 2007 2:34 PM


Wal-Mart officially entered the online video download business today.

So I click on Walmart.com and the site greets me with a big link in the middle of the home page to the new video download service. That placement earns big points as many sites fail to properly promote their new services.

The page loads after several minutes, but once it appears the page boasts a nice, clean layout with movie art for several flicks, such as “Running With Scissors” and “Superman Returns.”

My penchant for superheroes notwithstanding, I resist the allure and search for TV shows. I plug Comedy Central into the search bar and the site returns an entry for “Comedy Central Stand-Up, Season 1.” I click to a message “We're continually adding new titles for download. Please check again soon.”

OK, strike one.

Fox is one of the charter networks, so I try Fox. That brings up the movie “Fox Hound.”

Ah, how about I actually click on the link for “TV shows?” That might be a brighter idea.

That page contains a list of TV networks as well as a pull-down menu for networks and TV shows. I’ll try Nickelodeon since it can’t hurt to have an extra kids’ show squirreled away for when the natives get restless.

I choose “Zoey 101” because I secretly like that show and my son will watch it too.

Then I head to the checkout and install the download service. After a needlessly onerous registration process in which I must re-enter my credit card information three times, I buy the $1.96 show. A note tells me it should start downloading in 15 minutes.

But wait! That was a tease.

About 30 seconds later the download starts. While it unspools onto my computer I hit play.

And I hate to admit this because it’s Wal-mart. But the service works. And it works really well. It plays easily and smoothly and simply, and I simply cannot believe this. But it actually works.

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Comments (3)

Techbod:

A nice concise report. It's refreshing to hear that big-retail has made something so potentially tricky work pretty well.

Daisy Whitney:

Hi Techbod:

Thanks for reading. Yes, I'm impressed with the Wal-Mart service...more than I thought...though it doesn't work on Firefox, unfortunately.

Best,

Daisy

Nikhil:

Actually it does work in Firefox... you just need an activeX plugin.... but yeah... quite a neat site and works pretty well too

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