UltraViolet (system)

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UltraViolet is a cloud-based digital rights locker for movies and television shows that allows consumers to store proofs-of-purchase of licensed content in an account to enable playback on different devices using multiple applications from several different streaming services.[1] UltraViolet also allows users to share access to their library with up to five additional people. 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, Google, Amazon.com and Apple.

Operation[edit]

To use UltraViolet, consumers need to create a free UltraViolet account, either through a participating UltraViolet service provider, or through the official 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, (aka EST or electronic sales through), or by using a disc to digital service. Disc to Digital (D2D) services allow 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 and CinemaNow offer this service.
Flixster had been offering a D2D service as well, but it has been suspended since Fandango acquired Flixster in early 2016 and another independent movie streaming service, M-GO.[3]

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

The UltraViolet digital locker does not store video 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. 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]

Five of the "Big Six" major film studios and "mini-major" Lionsgate are members of DECE, and release their content with UltraViolet rights.[4] Other minor film and television studios release their programming and movies with UltraViolet rights, but are not DECE members.

Walt Disney operated studios are not members of DECE, and do not release any of their films with UltraViolet rights. On February 25, 2014 The Walt Disney Company launched a competing digital movie locker system called Disney Movies Anywhere that allows any Disney-branded movie purchased or redeemed at any participating DMA provider to be played using all other DMA providers. DMA providers include iTunes, Vudu, Google Play, Amazon Video, And Microsoft's Movie Store. The VUDU addition, in a way, allows the Ultraviolet content to merge with the Disney content using a single streaming provider.[5] Non-participation in the DECE consortium does not prohibit Disney from releasing films with UltraViolet rights later.

UltraViolet digital retailers[edit]

UltraViolet content is available from many existing movie streaming services,[6] 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.

Content 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.[7]

Comparison of streaming providers[edit]

Resolution Disc to Digital Disney Movies Anywhere
SD (480p) HD (720p) HDX (1080p) UHD (4k)
VUDU Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
FandangoNow (previously M-GO) Yes Yes Yes Yes No No
Flixster Video Yes Yes Yes No No No
CinemaNow Yes Yes Yes[8] No Yes No
blinkbox Yes Yes No[9] No No No
JB Hi-Fi Yes Yes ? No No No

Other less notable streaming providers include: Kaleidescape, Verizon FIOS On Demand, Sainsbury's Entertainment, Videociety and Nolim Films.

Player support of streaming providers[edit]

Set-top box Video game console Smartphone / Tablet
Roku Apple Google Amazon Microsoft Sony Apple Google Microsoft
Apple TV Chromecast Fire TV Xbox 360 Xbox One PS3 PS4 iOS Android Windows Phone
VUDU [10] Yes AirPlay Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes [11] Yes[12] No
FandangoNow (previously M-Go) Yes AirPlay Yes No No Yes No No Yes Yes No
Flixster Video No AirPlay Yes No No No No No Yes Yes No
CinemaNow [13] Yes [14] AirPlay Yes[15] No Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes No
blinkbox[16] No No Yes No No Yes No No Yes Yes Yes
JB Hi-Fi No No ? No ? ? ? ? Yes Yes ?

Streaming providers availability by country[edit]

The following information comes from the UltraViolet FAQ.[17]

USA Canada UK Australia New Zealand France Germany Ireland Switzerland Austria BeNeLux
VUDU Yes No No No No No No No No No No
Flixster Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
CinemaNow Yes Yes Yes No No No No Yes No No No
Wuaki No No Yes No No Yes Yes Yes No Yes No
blinkbox No No Yes No No No No No No No No
JB Hi-Fi No No No Yes Yes No No No No No No

Download capability[edit]

Ultraviolet streaming providers have their own proprietary video formats that users can download, but they are unable to be copied between devices, and they are not cross-platform. They must be downloaded and played within their own proprietary PC, IOS, or Android apps.

The Ultraviolet Common File Format (CFF) was created by DECE to allow downloaded video files to be copied between devices, stored on physical media (e.g. DVDs, SD cards, flash memory) or online backup services. They are designed to be playable on any UltraViolet authorized device (e.g. Blu-ray, streaming media players, Smart TV's, or mobile devices) or software player registered to the household Ultraviolet account.

UltraViolet streaming providers have not announced support for the CFF. Following the recent simplification of the UV ecosystem, the Common File Format was made optional. Studios are no longer required to encode in CFF and retailers are no longer required to make CFF downloads available. No UV players or software have been released by manufacturers.[18]

Selected DRM technologies[edit]

UltraViolet has approved six DRM technologies for future use in conjunction with the CFF.

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 DRM[19]

Using MPEG Common Encryption, 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).[citation needed]

Drawbacks[edit]

Limited interoperability with existing services
  • Several popular digital media stores, including Amazon Video, Google Play and iTunes currently do not support UltraViolet. However, UltraViolet titles can be streamed on Apple and Android devices using third party apps from many of the UV streaming providers.[20]
Not all film studios participate in the UV ecosystem
  • The Walt Disney Company does not provide UV rights with their digital content. Walt Disney launched its own competing digital rights locker called Disney Movies Anywhere (powered by keychest) that works with iTunes, Vudu, Amazon Video, and Google Play.[21] On September 8, 2015 Disney Movies Anywhere added support for Amazon Video and Microsoft Movies & TV.[22]
  • Beginning in 2012 MGM has released its new home video titles with UV rights, but they have only made a small number of their catalog films available with UV rights, and they do not participate in Disc to Digital services.
Not all UV enabled films are available to stream from all UV services
  • Due to contractual agreements between the studios and the streaming services, some titles are only available to stream from select UltraViolet services. Some titles may not be available on your particular service of choice.
Restrictions on use
  • It is not currently possible to download an UltraViolet movie or television show and copy it to another device, such as a smartphone or tablet. Consumers must use a third party app to watch movies on portable devices. However, that capability is promised with the upcoming launch of Vidity, which is compatible with UltraViolet.[23]


History[edit]

2010[edit]

In September, Mitch Singer, the President of DECE, announced the upcoming launch of the "UltraViolet" system in an interview with Home Media Magazine.[24]

2011[edit]

In January, a number of major film studios announced support for UltraViolet. They were: Warner Bros, Sony Pictures, Fox, Universal, Paramount, and Lionsgate. The notable exception was Walt Disney.[25]

On October 11, the UltraViolet system launched with the Warner Bros release of Horrible Bosses, the first UV title. Flixster re-launched as the first UltraViolet streaming service.[26] Sony subsequently released its first two UV titles in December, The Smurfs and Friends with Benefits.[27] Universal soon followed with the release of its first UV title, Cowboys & Aliens.[28]

In December, UltraViolet launched in the UK with the Warner Bros release of Final Destination 5.[29]

2012[edit]

At the Consumer Electronics Show in January, Amazon became the first major retailer to announce support for UltraViolet. Amazon has yet to add UV capability. The DEG reported that 750k accounts had been created in the first 3 months.[30]

On January 24, Paramount released its first UV title, Paranormal Activity 3.[31]

During the company's quarterly earnings call on February 5, Walt Disney's CEO Bob Iger, said they would take a wait and see approach towards UltraViolet.[32]

On April 15, DreamWorks Animation became the seventh studio to join the UltraViolet initiative.[33]

The next day, Vudu (operated by Walmart) became the first major UltraViolet retailer by adding UV rights to thousands of films available in its digital store. Walmart also launched an in-store "Disc to Digital" service, with more than 4,000 titles initially.[34][35]

UltraViolet surpassed 2 million users as of May 2.[36]

Lionsgate released its first UV title The Hunger Games on August 18.[37]

On September 18, 20th Century Fox released its first UV title Prometheus, with a new "Digital HD" branding, 3 weeks ahead of its DVD street date, and made an additional 600 titles available with UltraViolet rights.[38]

UltraViolet surpassed 5 million users and 7,200 titles on September 20.[39]

Redbox announced a partnership with UltraViolet for its new Redbox Instant streaming service on October 25. Ultraviolet support never materialized, and the service shut down on October 7, 2014.[40]

On October 30, Barnes & Noble announced it would launch an UltraViolet enabled electronic video store for its new Nook HD tablet.[41]

On November 20, Disney announced it would shut down it's DisneyMoviesOnline service in late December. Some industry insiders predicted that Disney would abandon its competing "keychest" technology and join the UltraViolet system.[42] However, the launch of DMA on February 25, 2014 confirmed that prediction was pre-mature.

Best Buy's CinemaNow became the second major UV retailer on November 24.[43]

CinemaNow launched an In Home Disc to Digital service (in beta) just in time for Christmas.[44]

2013[edit]

Jan 5: DreamWorks Animation and Technicolor launched MGO, a new streaming platform with UV capability.[45]

Jan 7: The DEG announced that 9 million UV accounts had been created, and that 8,500 UV titles were available.[46]

Jan 11: Cineplex became the first UltraViolet retailer in Canada.[47]

April 25: Best Buy announced a deal to make its UV ready Cinema Now service available in Canada.[48]

May 1: UltraViolet launched in Australia and New Zealand with the Warner Bros. film The Hobbit.[49]

May 2: Kaleidescape opened a UV ready video download store.[50]

May 9: 20th Century Fox announced it would offer Digital HD UltraViolet rights with all new films.[51]

June 3: Wal-Mart launched an In Home Disc to Digital service as a public beta.[52]

Aug 7: The DEG announced that 10,000 titles were available and 13 million accounts had been created.[53]

Sept 3: CinemaNow launched its Disc to Digital service in Canada.[54]

Sept 25: Target Ticket launched with UltraViolet capability, and included 10 free titles for new users.[55]

Nov 20: Ultraviolet launched in France, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland with the Warner Bros film Pacific Rim.

2014[edit]

Over the course of 2014, the number of UltraViolet accounts increased substantially, from 15 million in January[56] to over 20 million in November.

At the beginning of the year, there were 12,000 titles with UltraViolet rights available in the ecosystem.[57]

In mid January, DECE launched a completely revamped UltraViolet website with new features, such as the ability to delete films from a user's collection.[58]

Disney Movies Anywhere launched on February 25. DMA is streaming service powered by Disney's KeyChest technology that connect to iTunes, which is used to purchase or redeem content for playback via its DMA website.[59]

The next day, Mitch Singer, the President of DECE, stated that the new Disney Movies Anywhere service would not prohibit Disney from offering UltraViolet titles in the future.[60]

At the end of March, Vudu became the first UV retailer to offer Google Chromecast support for UltraViolet content.[61] Flixster followed suit a few days later.[62]

In May, Vudu introduced a new feature that allows UltraViolet users to share their movies with up to five friends.[63]

Later in May, Flixster became the first UV retailer to support Apple Airplay, finally enabling UltraViolet users to watch their UV collection on an Apple TV.[64]

On Aug 11th, NPD released a survey finding that more than 14% of digital content purchases are from UltraViolet Users.[65]

Early in September, DECE launched a new common redemption site.[66]

MGM began to offer UV rights for several of its catalog titles in early October.

Later in October, Tesco's BlinkBox became the first official UV retailer in the U.K.[67]

On Nov. 12: KnowHow, a UK streaming movie provider, relaunched as CinemaNow and added Ultraviolet support.[68]

Later in November Verizon FIOS on Demand introduced UltraViolet capability.[69]

2015[edit]

On January 6, The DEG announced that UltraViolet grew 30% in 2014 to 21 million accounts.[70]

French Supermarket Chain Carrefour opened a Digital Video Store with UltraViolet functionality called Nolim Films on January 27.[71]

Target Corporation shut down its Target Ticket service on March 7, and allowed users to transfer their purchases to CinemaNow and Disney Movies Anywhere.[72]

UltraViolet surpassed 22 million users on May 25.[73]

Australian UV Partner EZYFlix.tv closed down on August 18.[74]

2016[edit]

On Jan 6, The DEG reported that UltraViolet accounts grew by almost 20 percent in 2015 to hit more than 25 million with 165 million movies and television shows in UltraViolet libraries.[75]

On January 29, Fandango acquired the MGO movie service, and plans to re-launch it later this year under a new name.[76]

On March 3, Barnes and Noble announced that it would shutter its Nook Video Store on March 15.[77]

On March 30, MGO became Fandango Now and launched Airplay support.[78]

On April 4, BlinkBox - Owned by TalkTalk stopped supporting the PlayStation 3.[79]

On June 29, an update was released for the Nvidia Shield Android TV console that enabled support for the Vudu app. Vudu became the first UltraViolet service available on the popular device.[80]

On Sept 1, the Cineplex Store stopped offering Ultraviolet services.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Tribbey, Chris. "Six Questions: Ultraviolet's Mitch Singer". Home Media Magazine. Questex Media Group. Retrieved April 1, 2011. 
  2. ^ "UltraViolet Partners". 
  3. ^ "Rotten Tomatoes and Flixster Acquired By Fandango". Slashfilm. Retrieved 2016-02-19. 
  4. ^ "Alliance Members". Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE). Retrieved March 31, 2011. 
  5. ^ "Alex's Movie Blog: Disney Movies Anywhere adds Google Play and Vudu". Laughing Place. 
  6. ^ "DVD Demystified". 
  7. ^ Graser, Marc (January 5, 2011). "Hollywood clicks with UltraViolet digital locker". Variety. Retrieved April 1, 2011. 
  8. ^ "CinemaNow upgrades video library to 1080p, but only for Intel owners". Retrieved 1 February 2015. 
  9. ^ "HD on blinkbox". Retrieved 1 February 2015. 
  10. ^ VUDU Devices
  11. ^ Apple App Store | VUDU Player
  12. ^ Google Play | VUDU Movies and TV
  13. ^ CinemaNow Devices
  14. ^ Roku Channel Store | CinemaNow
  15. ^ CinemaNow Customer Support | How do I use Chromecast for Android or iOS?
  16. ^ https://support.blinkbox.com/hc/en-gb/articles/202263326-Compatible-devices
  17. ^ UltraViolet FAQ - What services support UltraViolet?
  18. ^ "UV Demystified". 
  19. ^ http://www.rovicorp.com/company/press-releases/2013/1/7/divx-plus-str-drm-approved-for-ultraviolet-services.html
  20. ^ "Ultraviolet Demystified". 
  21. ^ "Disney Launches Disney Movies Anywhere, An iTunes-Integrated App Where Fans Can Build Their Movie Library". 
  22. ^ "DISNEY MOVIES ANYWHERE SIGNIFICANTLY INCREASES DIGITAL FOOTPRINT WITH ADDITION OF NEW PARTNERS AND APPS". 
  23. ^ "Vidity' 4K movies you can download are coming later this year". Engadget. AOL Tech. 
  24. ^ "Six Questions: Ultraviolet's Mitch Singer". 
  25. ^ "UltraViolet Gets Studio Support". 
  26. ^ "UltraViolet Soft Launches with Horrible Bosses". 
  27. ^ "'The Smurfs,' 'Friends With Benefits' First UltraViolet Titles for Sony". 
  28. ^ "UltraViolet Titles Keep Coming, With More Details Due At CES". 
  29. ^ "`Final Destination 5′ Is First For UltraViolet In The UK; Will British Users Have Clearer Picture Than In The U.S.?". 
  30. ^ "UltraViolet Registration Surges In First Three Months". 
  31. ^ "Paramount Introduces UltraViolet Titles While Fox Waits". DMZ. 
  32. ^ "Disney's Iger: UltraViolet 'wait-and-see'". 
  33. ^ "Dreamworks Animation Teams with Wal-Mart's Disc to Digital Service". 
  34. ^ "4,000-Plus Titles Available in Walmart Disc-to-Digital Program". 
  35. ^ "Full List of Disc to Digital Titles". 
  36. ^ "Bewkes: UltraViolet Adds 1 Million New Accounts in Four Weeks". 
  37. ^ "Lionsgate Makes "Hunger Games" its First UltraViolet Release". 
  38. ^ "Fox Home Entertainment Launches Digital HD Prometheus". 
  39. ^ "Is UltraViolet Finally Ready to Save Hollywood's Day?". 
  40. ^ "Redbox Will Promote UltraViolet In New Disc And Online Deal With Warner Bros". 
  41. ^ "Barnes & Noble bolstering Nook Video catalogue, bringing UltraViolet to the HD and HD+". 
  42. ^ "Disney Shuts Down Online Movie Service". 
  43. ^ "CinemaNow adds Ultraviolet support to some of its movies". 
  44. ^ "Best Buy's CinemaNow opens home disc-to-digital program, makes cloud copies of DVDs for a fee". 
  45. ^ "M-GO video on-demand movie service launches, streams to PCs, Samsung and Vizio players". 
  46. ^ "DECE Announces 9 million UltraViolet Users" (PDF). 
  47. ^ "Cineplex debuts UltaViolet in Canada". 
  48. ^ "UltraViolet and CinemaNow Announce a New Partnership". 
  49. ^ "The Hobbit will be first movie to support UltraViolet in New Zealand and Australia". 
  50. ^ "Kaleidescape's online video store officially opens, promises Blu-ray quality downloads". 
  51. ^ "Fox Offering Early Digital Access on New Titles, Cuts Out iTunes". 
  52. ^ "Vudu Launches In Home Disc to Digital Service". 
  53. ^ "Blu-Ray, Ultraviolet Sales Jump in First Half of 2013". 
  54. ^ "CinemaNow Bows Disc to Digital in Canada". 
  55. ^ "Target launches Digital Content Store with UltraViolet". 
  56. ^ "DEG Year End Entertainment Report" (PDF). 
  57. ^ "UltraViolet Enjoys Record Week". 
  58. ^ "New UltraViolet launches, lets you delete movies". Technology Tell. 
  59. ^ "Disney Movies Anywhere service launches with an unprecedented link to iTunes". 
  60. ^ "UltraViolet exec reacts to Disney Movies Anywhere launch". iKids. 
  61. ^ "Cast Away Today with Vudu for Chromecast". 
  62. ^ "Flixster movies app adds Chromecast support". 
  63. ^ "Walmart's Vudu Now Allows UltraViolet Users To Share Their Movies With Up To Five Friends". Techcrunch. 
  64. ^ "Flixster Movies App Gets AirPlay Support". 
  65. ^ "NPD: UltraViolet Users Buy More Digital Content". Home Media Magazine. 
  66. ^ "Code Redemption | UltraViolet". 
  67. ^ "Tesco now offers digital copies of movies you've bought in any store". engadget. 
  68. ^ Colin, Mann. "Knowow relaunches as CinemaNow, adds UltraViolet". Advanced Television. 
  69. ^ "UltraViolet Says It Will Continue To Grow, Even Without Disney And Amazon". Deadline. 
  70. ^ "Digital Growth, Weak Box Office Further Eroded Consumer Spending on Disc in 2014". 
  71. ^ "French Supermarket Chain Carrefour Bows Digital Video Store; Gets First UltraViolet Functionality". 
  72. ^ "Target Ticket". 
  73. ^ "Digital Goes Over the Top". Home Media Magazine. 
  74. ^ "Aussie Digital Movie Service EzyFlix Ceases Operations". 
  75. ^ "DEG: Home-Video Spending Up 1% In 2015". Twice.com. 
  76. ^ "Fandango Acquires M-GO Movie Service from Dreamworks Animation And Technicolor". Variety. 
  77. ^ "Barnes & Noble is shutting down the Nook App Store on March 15th". The Verge. 
  78. ^ "Fandango Rebrands M-GO On-Demand Video Service As FandangoNOW". Deadline.com. 
  79. ^ "Blinkbox TalkTalk TV changes to supported devices". 
  80. ^ "VUDU Android TV App Now Available On NVIDIA SHIELD". Android Headlines. 

External links[edit]