Bentonville, Ark. — Wal-Mart has begun selling digital converter boxes one week before the first wave of $40 coupons is expected to reach consumers.
The retailer is presently offering a single Magnavox-branded model for $49.87, but will introduce a second brand within the next few months, it said.
Wal-Mart has worked closely with the National Telecommunications and Information Association (NTIA) in preparation for lead-up to the digital transition, and has developed additional training for its sales clerks, in-store communication about DTV options, and created a new platform for registers to accommodate the coupons.
Besides converter boxes, Wal-Mart offers customers the opportunity to sign up for cable or satellite service through in-store kiosks, where they can view local service provider packages. The retailer has also expanded its digital and HDTV assortment to more than 40 SKUs over the past year, at price points ranging from roughly $150 to $2,100.
“Due to our many locations, we expect the majority of customers will come to us for making their digital transition plan, both for convenience and price,” said Gary Severson, home entertainment senior VP for Wal-Mart Stores, U.S. “We’ve prepared for many months to ensure the coupon process will go smoothly, and will work with suppliers to continue to have available, affordable options in our stores for all customers.”
Wal-Mart sited Nielsen statistics indicating that 13 million, or 12 percent, of all U.S. households will be impacted by the analog broadcasting cutoff.
Best Buy and Circuit City will begin selling $60 converter boxes beginning Feb. 17.