There's an article in today's L.A. Times (registration required) that says that Movielink, which currently sells downloadable movie rentals, will soon allow users to burn DVD copies of the movies they download. (Movielink is only available in the U.S.)
Sonic Solutions software will be used to prevent users from duplicating the DVD.
If this works, it will spread to other companies. Because on-line rentals are not restricted by physical inventory limitations, I don't doubt that companies will host independent films. If you can manage to finance a feature of some type, you can not only earn rental dollars from Movielink but also generate DVD sales without the hassles of manufacturing and distribution.
Time will tell if this has an impact on DVD retailers like Wal-Mart.