UltraViolet (system)

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UltraViolet (UV) is a free, cloud-based, digital rights library that allows users of digital home entertainment content to stream and download purchased content to multiple platforms and devices. The UltraViolet ecosystem embraces a "buy once, play anywhere" approach that allows users to store digital proofs-of-purchase in an account to enable playback of purchased content on different devices, and through different streaming services.[1] UltraViolet also allows users to share their library with up to 5 additional people, and 12 different devices, with up to three simultaneous streams.

UltraViolet is deployed by the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem [2] an alliance of 85 companies that includes film studios, retailers, consumer electronics manufacturers, cable TV companies, ISPs, network hosting vendors, and other Internet systems and security vendors, with the notable exceptions of Disney and Apple.



Sept 30: Mitch Singer introduced the new "UltraViolet" system in an interview with Home Media Magazine. [3]


Jan 5: Six major studios (Not Disney) announced support for UltraViolet. [4]

Jan 6: DECE completed the design of UltraViolet. [5]

UltraViolet Began Phase 1

Oct 11: Warner Bros. released the first UV title "Horrible Bosses", and re-launched Flixster as the first UV retailer. [6]

Dec 2: Sony released its first two UV titles, "The Smurfs" and "Friends with Benefits". [7]

Dec 6: Universal released its first UV title, "Cowboys & Aliens". [8]

Dec 26: Warner Bros. released Final Destination 5 as the first UV title in the UK. [9]


Jan 10: At CES, Amazon became the first major retailer to announce support for UltraViolet. The DEG reported that 750k accounts had been created in the first 3 months. [10]

Feb 7: Walt Disney's CEO Bob Iger said they were taking a wait and see approach towards UltraViolet. [11]

April 16: Wal-Mart's "Vudu" streaming service became the second UltraViolet retailer by adding UV rights to thousands of films. Wal-mart also launched an In Store Disc to Digital service, with more than 4000 titles initially. [12][13] DreamWorks Animation also signed on with UltraViolet and Disc to Digital. [14]

May 2: UltraViolet surpassed 2 Million users. [15]

Aug 18: Lionsgate released its first UV title "The Hunger Games". [16]

Sept 18: 20th Century Fox released its first UV title "Prometheus," with a new "HD Digital" branding, 3 weeks ahead of its DVD street date, and added UV rights to 600 catalog titles. [17]

Sept 20: UltraViolet surpassed 5 million users and 7,200 titles. [18]

Oct 25: Redbox announced a partnership with UltraViolet for its new Redbox Instant streaming service. [19]

Oct 30: Barnes and Noble announced it would launch an UltraViolet enabled Video Store for its new Nook HD tablet. [20]

Nov 20: Disney announced it would shut down its DisneyMoviesOnline service in late December. Industry insiders said the shut down was an indication that Disney was abandoning their competing "keychest" platform. [21] However, the launch of DMA on February 25, 2014 confirmed that prediction was inaccurate.

Nov 24: Best Buy's CinemaNow streaming service began to offer UV rights with its films. [22]

Dec 20: CinemaNow launched an In Home Disc to Digital service (in beta). [23]


Jan 5: DreamWorks Animation and Technicolor launched M-GO, a new streaming platform with UV capability. [24]

Jan 7: The DEG announced that 9 million UV accounts had been created, and that 8,500 UV titles were available. [25]

Jan 11: Cineplex became the first UltraViolet retailer in Canada. [26]

April 19: Mark Tietell revealed that UltraViolet had surpassed 12 million users. [27]

April 25: Best Buy announced a new deal to bring its UV-based CinemaNow platform to Canada. [28]

May 1: UltraViolet launched in Australia and New Zealand with The Hobbit. [29]

May 2: Kaleidescape opened a UV-based video download store. [30]

May 9: 20th Century Fox announced it would offer Digital HD UltraViolet for all new films, and would stop including iTunes digital copies with its physical media. [31]

May 25: Disney introduced Digital Copy Plus, which ended iTunes exclusive digital copies on all of its new releases. The new Digital Copy Plus allows the redemption of digital copies from iTunes, Amazon Instant, or Vudu. [32]

June 3: Wal-Mart launched an In Home Disc to Digital as a public beta. [33]

July 9: Lionsgate joined 20th Century Fox in offering UV exclusive digital copies with all new releases. The first release to drop iTunes was Tyler Perry's Temptation.

Aug 7: DEG announced that 10,000 titles were available and 13 million accounts had been created. [34]

Sept 3: CinemaNow bowed its Disc to Digital service in Canada. [35]

Sept 25: Target Ticket launched with UltraViolet capability, and included 10 free titles. [36]

Nov 20: Pacific Rim became the first UltraViolet title in France, Germany, Austria and Switzerland, and is available to stream on Flixster.


Jan 2: UltraViolet surpassed 12,000 available titles. [37]

Jan 7: The DEG announced that 15 million UltraViolet accounts had been created. [38]

Jan 22: DECE launched a completely revamped UltraViolet website with new features, such as the ability to delete films from the user's collection.

Feb 25: Disney launched their Disney Movies Anywhere website which uses their KeyChest service and is partnered with iTunes for streaming their Digital Copy Plus. [39]

March 31: Vudu became the first UV retailer to offer Google Chromecast support for UltraViolet content. [40] Flixster followed suit a few days later. [41]

How it works[edit]

Content consumers create a free UltraViolet account, either through a participating UltraViolet service provider, or through the UltraViolet website. An UltraViolet account is a Digital Rights Locker where licenses for purchased content are stored and managed irrespective of the point of sale. The Ultraviolet account holder is allowed to share their library with 5 other users, which are called members.

Consumers can acquire UltraViolet rights by purchasing a physical disc that includes an UltraViolet activation code, by purchasing a movie directly from an electronic retailer, or by using a disc to digital service. Disc to Digital allows consumers to insert a DVD or blu-ray into their computer's disc drive, scan it to verify ownership, and then add it to their UltraViolet collection for a small fee. Several retailers including vudu, CinemaNow, and flixster now offer this service.

Consumers can then stream or download their UltraViolet content from any participating retailer. Participating retailers are listed in the table below.

UltraViolet does not store files, and is not a "cloud storage" platform. Only the rights for purchased content are stored on the service. UltraViolet only coordinates and manages the licenses for each account, but not the content itself. The content may be obtained in any way, in its multi-DRM container format. By creating a digital-rights locker rather than a digital media storage locker, UltraViolet bypasses the cost of storage and bandwidth used when the media is accessed and passes that cost on to various service providers. In addition, by only managing the rights and licensing of content, UltraViolet insulates itself from future technological advances, allowing users to keep watching content they have purchased.

Content partners[edit]

The DECE includes as its members the parent divisions of five of the "Big Six" major film studios as well as "mini-major" studio Lionsgate:[42]

Walt Disney and its wholly owned studios are not members of DECE, and do not release any of their films with UltraViolet rights. On February 25 The Walt Disney Company launched its own competing digital movie locker called Disney Movies Anywhere that allows any Disney movie purchased or redeemed in iTunes to be played via the web or in an IOS app. Disney also includes what it calls Digital Copy Plus on its new releases, Digital Copy Plus is a redemption code that works on Amazon Instant, Vudu, iTunes, or Google Play. Non-participation in the DECE consortium does not prohibit Disney from releasing films with UltraViolet rights. In 2012 Disney's CEO Bob Iger said the studio had not ruled out UltraViolet participation, but were taking a "wait-and-see approach" and that it was too early to make conclusions.[43]

Streaming providers[edit]

UltraViolet content is available from many existing movie streaming services,[44] using their existing streaming and DRM technologies. Some services offer downloads that can be saved on notebook PC's, tablets, gaming consoles, or phones for offline viewing. Below is a table of all the streaming providers and the countries they serve.

Files can also be streamed over the Internet to an unlimited number of devices, depending on the content license rights held by the streaming provider. Up to three streams can be simultaneously transmitted.[45] CFF Compatible devices will include set-top boxes as well as Internet-enabled devices such as computers, game consoles, Blu-ray Disc players, Internet TVs, smartphones and tablets.[46]

Comparison of streaming providers[edit]

United States Canada United Kingdom Australia New Zealand France Germany Ireland Switzerland Resolution Disc to Digital
Flixster Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes SD, HD Yes
Vudu Yes No No No No No No No No SD, HD, HDX Yes
Nook Yes No Yes No No No No Yes No SD, HD No
CinemaNow Yes Yes No No No No No No No SD, HD Yes
Target Ticket Yes No No No No No No No No SD, HD No
M-Go Yes No Yes No No No No Yes No SD, HD No
Cineplex Entertainment No Yes No No No No No No No ? No
JB Hi-Fi No No No Yes Yes No No No No ? No
FlixFling Yes No No No No No No No No ? No
EZyFlix No No No Yes Yes No No No No ? No


UltraViolet downloads, better known as the Common File Format, are not available as of Jan 1, 2013. Streaming providers who are UltraViolet ready are able to offer their own proprietary downloads. These downloaded copies are unable to be copied from one device to another, and are not cross-platform.

When the UltraViolet Common File Format is deployed, downloaded files will be able to be copied between devices, stored on physical media (e.g. DVDs, SD cards, flash memory) or cloud services, and can then be played on any UltraViolet player registered to the household account, but it will not play on devices which are not compatible with UltraViolet CFF.

The Common File Format uses the Common Encryption (CENC) system. This format is based on the ISO Base File Format, and ensures that a consistent set of codecs, media formats, DRMs, subtitling, and other kinds of data, are used across the whole UltraViolet ecosystem. The CFF uses the .uvu file extension. Because every UltraViolet title should arrive in this format, it will generally play on any UltraViolet registered device. The format is based on existing standards from MPEG, SMPTE, and others, and was originally derived from the Microsoft Protected Interoperable File Format (PIFF) specification. The goal was to avoid the problem of different file formats for different players and to make it possible to copy files from player to player.[47]

There are two profiles for files and players: standard definition (SD) and high definition (HD). SD players can play only SD files. HD players can play both SD and HD files.

Much of the work done by DECE is being adopted by MPEG in updates to the MPEG-4 container format and as part of the MPEG Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP (DASH) format. Therefore, the common file format can be used in other systems and is expected to become broadly deployed.

UltraViolet files use the fragmented MPEG-4 container format (fMP4, technically known as ISO/IEC 14496-12 and often called an ISO container, not to be confused with an ISO disk image.)

UltraViolet files are not required to be encrypted, but it is expected that they usually will be. The files are encrypted using AES keys, which are then protected using each of the required DRM systems, with the DRM-specific information placed in the header. Both ISO scheme (PSSH/CENC) and IPMP frameworks are allowed. A player device only needs to implement one DRM.

UltraViolet files use H.264/AVC video (ISO/IEC 14496-10). Multiple resolutions, aspect ratios, and frame rates are supported. Only progressive-scan video is allowed.

UltraViolet files use stereo MPEG-4 AAC LC audio (ISO/IEC 14496-3) as a required base format, with optional multi-channel AAC, HE AAC v2 (optionally with MPEG surround), Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD (MLP), DTS, DTS HD, DTS Master Audio, and DTS Express (low bit rate).

UltraViolet files uses SMPTE Timed Text (SMPTE TT), which is in turn based on the W3C Timed Text Markup Language (TTML). TT incorporates both Unicode text and PNG graphics for captions, subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing (SDH), and other types of subtitles and subpictures such as sign language and written commentaries.

Selected DRM technologies[edit]

UltraViolet initially selected five DRM technologies allowing restrictions management on a broad range of devices: televisions, set-top-boxes, DVD & Blu-ray Disc players, games consoles, PC, tablets and smartphones.

The selected DRM technologies are:

  • Google Widevine DRM, chosen for its strong position on set-top boxes
  • Marlin DRM, chosen for its compatibility with many Connected TVs
  • OMA CMLA-OMA v2, chosen for its strong position on mobile devices
  • Microsoft PlayReady, chosen for its wide availability on PC and CE devices
  • Adobe Primetime DRM, chosen for its wide availability on PC devices
  • DivX Plus [48]

Using the Common Encryption technology, any of these DRMs can be used to play the same file. There is no need to download another version to use a different DRM. The same file works everywhere (for a given screen size).


  • UltraViolet content is not yet available on the most popular video platforms, such as iTunes, Amazon Instant, and Xbox video. However, UltraViolet content can be played on Apple devices and on the Xbox through a third party app from many of the streaming providers.[49]
  • Walt Disney and other independent film studios have not yet released any films with UV rights, making it impossible for a user to have a complete collection of films in the format. Disney released its own digital rights locker to compete with UltraViolet.[50]
  • The redemption sheets that come with physical discs send consumers to studio operated sites that may require registration, and often confuse users. This was a big problem when the service first launched, and caused a backlash among consumers. Now, users can redeem their movie directly at the streaming provider of their choice, but first time users may not know this. The DECE is working on a common redemption site to address this problem.[51]
  • It is not currently possible to download an UltraViolet file and copy it to another device, such as a smartphone or tablet. However, that capability is promised with the upcoming launch of the Common File Format.[52]
  • Users have attempted to sell UV codes to others online, which is against the Terms of Service.[53]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Tribbey, Chris. "Six Questions: Ultraviolet's Mitch Singer". Home Media Magazine. Questex Media Group. Retrieved April 1, 2011. 
  2. ^ "UltraViolet Partners". 
  3. ^ "Six Questions: Ultraviolet’s Mitch Singer". 
  4. ^ "UltraViolet Gets Studio Support". 
  5. ^ "DECE Completes Design of UltraViolet, Paving the Way For Consumers to Enjoy Digital Entertainment Across Multiple Platforms". 
  6. ^ "UltraViolet Soft Launches with Horrible Bosses". 
  7. ^ "‘The Smurfs,’ ‘Friends With Benefits’ First UltraViolet Titles for Sony". 
  8. ^ "UltraViolet Titles Keep Coming, With More Details Due At CES". 
  9. ^ "Final Destination 5′ Is First For UltraViolet In The UK; Will British Users Have Clearer Picture Than In The U.S.?". 
  10. ^ "UltraViolet Registration Surges In First Three Months". 
  11. ^ "Disney’s Iger: UltraViolet ‘wait-and-see’". 
  12. ^ "4,000-Plus Titles Available in Walmart Disc-to-Digital Program". 
  13. ^ "Full List of Disc to Digital Titles". 
  14. ^ "Dreamworks Animation Teams with Wal-Mart's Disc to Digital Service". 
  15. ^ "Bewkes: UltraViolet Adds 1 Million New Accounts in Four Weeks". 
  16. ^ "Lionsgate Makes "Hunger Games" its First UltraViolet Release". 
  17. ^ "Fox Home Entertainment Launches Digital HD Prometheus". 
  18. ^ "Is UltraViolet Finally Ready to Save Hollywood’s Day?". 
  19. ^ "Redbox Will Promote UltraViolet In New Disc And Online Deal With Warner Bros". 
  20. ^ "Barnes & Noble bolstering Nook Video catalogue, bringing UltraViolet to the HD and HD+". 
  21. ^ "Disney Shuts Down Online Movie Service". 
  22. ^ "CinemaNow adds Ultraviolet support to some of its movies". 
  23. ^ "Best Buy's CinemaNow opens home disc-to-digital program, makes cloud copies of DVDs for a fee". 
  24. ^ "M-GO video on-demand movie service launches, streams to PCs, Samsung and Vizio players". 
  25. ^ "DECE Announces 9 million UltraViolet Users". 
  26. ^ "Cineplex debuts UltaViolet in Canada". 
  27. ^ "UltraViolet Plans More EU Launches, Hits Back at Critics". 
  28. ^ "UltraViolet and CinemaNow Announce a New Partnership". 
  29. ^ "The Hobbit will be first movie to support UltraViolet in New Zealand and Australia". 
  30. ^ "Kaleidescape's online video store officially opens, promises Blu-ray quality downloads". 
  31. ^ "Fox Offering Early Digital Access on New Titles, Cuts Out iTunes". 
  32. ^ "Disney’s New ‘Digital Copy Plus’ One Step Closer to ‘Disney Movies Anywhere’ Read more: Disney's New 'Digital Copy Plus' One Step Closer to 'Disney Movies Anywhere'". 
  33. ^ "Vudu Launches In Home Disc to Digital Service". 
  34. ^ "Blu-Ray, Ultraviolet Sales Jump in First Half of 2013". 
  35. ^ "CinemaNow Bows Disc to Digital in Canada". 
  36. ^ "Target launches Digital Content Store with UltraViolet". 
  37. ^ "UltraViolet Enjoys Record Week". 
  38. ^ "DEG Yead End Entertainment Report". 
  39. ^ "Disney Movies Anywhere service launches with an unprecedented link to iTunes". 
  40. ^ "Cast Away Today with Vudu for Chromecast". 
  41. ^ "Flixster movies app adds Chromecast support". 
  42. ^ "Alliance Members". Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE). Retrieved March 31, 2011. 
  43. ^ Mann, Colin (2012-02-08). "Disney’s Iger: UltraViolet ‘wait-and-see’". Advanced Television. Retrieved 2013-07-21. 
  44. ^ "DVD Demystified". 
  45. ^ Graser, Marc (January 5, 2011). "Hollywood clicks with UltraViolet digital locker". Variety. Retrieved April 1, 2011. 
  46. ^ "Hollywood Studios Announce Support for UltraViolet Format and Endorse Consumers' Right to Interoperability" (Press release). Warner Bros. Retrieved March 31, 2011. 
  47. ^ "UltraViolet FAQ". Jim Taylor. 
  48. ^ http://www.rovicorp.com/company/news-center/pressreleases/1434_17170.htm
  49. ^ "Flixster hands out iTunes codes to unhappy UltraViolet users". 
  50. ^ "With Disney Movies Anywhere announcement, things look grim for UltraViolet". 
  51. ^ "UltraViolet working on easier redemption process for adding movies to the cloud". 
  52. ^ "Download once, watch anywhere UltraViolet files move closer as Paramount embraces DTS". 
  53. ^ Knight, Zachary. "Is Selling Your Ultraviolet Code Copyright Infringement?". TechDirt. Retrieved 5 December 2013. 

External links[edit]