From Horrible Bosses to Green Lantern, movies in the cloud for anytime access launched ahead of schedule last week using a new technology called UltraViolet. To bring you the inside scoop on this new digital entertainment locker called Coordinator, we got a preview last week of how it works during a Digital Hollywood Panel and interview with Tim Dodd, VP and GM Neustar (the engine behind UltraViolet) in Los Angeles last week.
As the home entertainment world looks for new digital solutions, UltraViolet is being adopted by five major studios, including Warner Brothers, Sony Pictures, Paramount Pictures, Lionsgate and Fox (Disney has not adopted UltraViolet) to provide instant streaming for movie fans. Justin Herz, SVP and GM Warner Brothers shared, “The average US household has about 90 DVDs in their shelves. There are some challenges of continuing this increase of physical collections. UltraViolet is an important part of moving content to the cloud.”
And the studios have moved into a fast-forward mode. Brad Hunt, President, Digital Media Directions, explained the current movie economics driving this Hollywood consortium’s early launch, “Screen Digest reported that US sales of DVDs last year was $7.8 billion, which is 43% below it’s 2006 peak of $13.7 billion, that includes a 20% decline in 2010 from 2009. Screen Digest also reported that online movies purchases are on track to bring in only about $231 million this year, and there’s quite a shortfall in terms of the decline of physical media sales compared to the growth of digital online movie purchases.”
Similar to when DVDs and Blu-ray launched, this is only the beginning for UltraViolet with the following 2011 UV movie releases scheduled:
10/11 – Horrible Bosses, Green Lantern
11/11 – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
12/2 – Friends with Benefits, Smurfs
12/6 – Cowboys and Aliens
Paramount, Lionsgate and Fox are expected to release UltraViolet versions of titles in the first quarter of 2012.
So what is Ultraviolet and how does it work? Tim Dodd, Neustar, explained, “It’s really about your entertainment, your movies from the cloud distributed anytime, anywhere and instantly.” While each movie studio or storefront (Best Buy, Radio Shack, Amazon, Sony Pictures, etc) may have their own website or app, the constant is that everything is seamlessly connected to your Ultraviolet digital entertainment locker or Coordinator. For example, Warner Brothers has a Flixster website and app that connects to UltraViolet.
The initial launch of UltraViolet is bundled for free with the purchase of a Blu-ray disc of Horrible Bosses. You purchase the disc for $22.99, which is the same price as a normal Warner Brothers Blu-ray disc, and it comes with a UV redemption code or proof purchase.
Once you buy Horrible Bosses, inside the disc, you will find the following 3 steps to store your movie in your Ultraviolet digital entertainment locker:
1. Go to ultraviolet.flixster.com/horriblebosses
2. Follow steps to create a free account, or log into your Flixster and UltraViolet accounts.
3. Enter the redemption code to start enjoying your movie. (This is a 12-digit code that you enter once. The next time you return, just click on My Movies, and select the movie you want to watch.)
While Apple and Amazon are not part of the UltraViolet consortium, you can still set up a UV locker to store your movies in a cloud. The only limitation is that you need to stream versus download a UV movie on Apple devices (Macbook, iPad, iPhone).
If you buy a Blu-ray disc that has UltraViolet from Amazon, it works in a similar way. For now, you can use Ultraviolet if you buy Horrible Bosses or Green Lantern on Amazon by streaming versus a download. All Android users can also use UltraViolet their devices.
Once your movie is registered in the UV cloud, you can watch it anytime, anywhere on your Mac, PC, tablet or mobile device with an internet connection. Tim Dodd, Neustar, shared this first-hand example, “I was in DC on Sunday night for a meeting in a hotel, and I had movies On Demand, and I thought I can watch Horrible Bosses and Green Lantern on my laptop, but the disc is in LA. In fact, I don’t even know where the disc is,… but I can get on the internet and just fire up UltraViolet through Flixster. They’re talking back to Neustar every second to make sure everything is working fine. I can go to my account, go to my library, and watch a movie from my library. I was 3,000 miles away from where the disc sits, but I’m authenticated by the cloud and Neustar technology. I can now watch it through the hotel wifi.”
Keep an eye out for UltraViolet coming to a cloud near you as soon as you buy a Blu-ray disc with UV. As more movie releases roll-out with UV, the Coordinator locker will continue to evolve with new features as Hollywood enhances this new digital entertainment solution. And if you’re thinking about buying a Horrible Bosses Blu-ray disc to try UV, check out our previous column with a Horrible Bosses Director Q and A in Hollywood. It’s a LOL comedy worth watching!
© Liz H Kelly @LizHKelly, National Digital Entertainment Columnist, Sunrise Road Media, http://sunriseroadmedia.com