Trans World suspends on-demand DVD service

Trans World Entertainment has temporarily suspended a new service that furnishes customers with DVDs

Trans World Entertainment has temporarily suspended a new service that furnishes customers with DVDs of obscure films as Hewlett Packard Development Co. undergoes a restructuring initiative.

That restructuring last month also resulted in Wal-Mart Stores’ retreat from the online video download business.

Wanting to expand its burgeoning DVD business with foreign and independent films that never achieved mass DVD distribution, Trans World in June partnered with HP in Palo Alto, Calif. HP enabled the Guilderland parent of the For Your Entertainment, or f.y.e., chain to offer a DVD manufacture-on-demand service over

Six months later, Trans World stopped offering that service. The “all entertainment” retailer expects to relaunch the service in February, said Trans World President James Litwak.

Litwak said Trans World has halted its DVD manufacture-on-demand service as HP reorganizes its DVD packaging operations in California. The computer company fulfills orders made over by making, packaging and mailing DVDs to customers within 24 hours.

“They still want to be in the [DVD manufacture-on-demand] business, and that was all we were offering from them,” said Litwak.

Wal-Mart in Bentonville, Ark., last month scrapped its Wal-Mart Video Downloads arm, which it launched in 1998 with HP’s support, the New York Times reported last week. That service allowed Wal-Mart customers to purchase digital videos online.

An HP spokesman did not immediately return calls and e-mails seeking comment Wednesday.

When Trans World and HP announced their partnership in June, they were negotiating licensing agreements with 170 copyright holders for DVD manufacture-on-demand and electronic-sell-through services. Only about 10 percent of the 1 million films made worldwide have been released on DVD. The HP service was designed to supplement’s offerings, which include more than 15,000 video titles. As Trans World distances itself from the music business that was once its core, it has increasingly relied on video sales to keep itself afloat.

“This is a small part of the business. That’s why we liked the fact that HP was willing to do that,” Litwak said of the DVD manufacture-on-demand service.

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