Aspiring content providers, such as Telstra with their T Box, Google and Apple, are set to come under threat from a new cloud based service called UltraViolet that is owned by Hollywood movie studios and a consortium of consumer electronics companies.The new service, which is still in its infancy, allows movies to be downloaded quickly to multiple devices including a TV, tablet and smartphone. The studios behind UltraViolet include Warner, Viacom, Paramount Pictures, Comcast, Universal Pictures and Sony Pictures.
The format makes its public debut in the USA next week with DVD and Blu-ray releases of “Horrible Bosses” on Tuesday and “Green Lantern” on Friday. Both are Warner Bros. movies. More movies using the format are expected to be released in coming weeks.
It is not known when the service will be released in Australia after executives said that they will take the service “global”. At this stage consumers gets free access to the digital service if they have purchased a hard copy DVD movie.
The group who have been working on the development of UltraViolet for the past three years will sell direct to consumers, removing the need for a middle man like Apple, Fetch TV, Telstra or Google. It will also put pressure on the likes of Blockbuster, Netflix and Amazon who have been eying off the Australian market but have struggled to get the rights to release Hollywood movie content into the Australian market.
The Wall Street Journal said that the UltraViolet consortium has spent three years creating a cloud-based service that is designed to let people watch online or mobile versions of movies they have bought on DVD or Blu-ray. People who buy an UltraViolet-enabled copy of a movie can get access to the same movie on computers, iPhones and iPads, as well as other mobile devices.
UltraViolet gives users an online “digital locker” that stores copies of movies they’ve bought, and lets them watch those movies from nearly anywhere.
To access the service a user must enter a 12-digit redemption code, provided on a slip inside each film’s DVD and Blu-ray case, to claim the digital rights to the film. Users also must create an UltraViolet account to store their library. Other movie Companies such as Walt Disney are not part of the UltraViolet initiative, instead they are developing its own digital-rights locker system dubbed KeyChest.
UltraViolet-enabled content will not be available through the Apple iTunes Store.
WSJ said that movie studios have for some time been looking at cloud and digital services as a way to replace revenue they are losing to declining DVD sales. U.S. sales of DVDs last year was $7.8 billion, 43% below its 2006 peak of $13.7 billion, according to media-tracking firm IHS Screen Digest, including a roughly 20% decline in 2010 from 2009.