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 5 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.


Consumers can 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, or by using a disc to digital service. Disc to Digital 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, 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.

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.[3] 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.[4] 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,[5] 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.[6]

Comparison of streaming providers[edit]

Resolution Disc to Digital Disney Movies Anywhere
SD (480p) HD (720p) HDX (1080p)
VUDU Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Flixster Yes Yes ? Yes No
CinemaNow Yes Yes Yes[7] Yes No
blinkbox Yes Yes No[8] No No
Cineplex Entertainment Yes Yes No No No
JB Hi-Fi Yes Yes ? No No

Other less notable streaming providers include: Nook Video, M-GO, Verizon FIOS On Demand, 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 [9] Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes [10] Yes[11] No
Flixster Yes [12] Yes [13] Yes No Yes No No No Yes Yes Yes
CinemaNow [14] Yes [15] Yes No No Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes No
blinkbox No No Yes No Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Cineplex Entertainment No No ? No ? ? ? ? ? ? ?
JB Hi-Fi No No ? No ? ? ? ? ? ? ?

Streaming providers availability by country[edit]

The following information comes from the UltraViolet FAQ.[16]

USA Canada UK Australia New Zealand France Germany Ireland Switzerland Austria
VUDU Yes No No No No No No No No No
Flixster Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
CinemaNow Yes Yes Yes No No No No No No No
blinkbox No No Yes No No No No No No 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

Future download capability[edit]

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

The (CFF) has not been rolled out by any Ultraviolet retailers. Many Ultraviolet streaming providers have their own proprietary video formats that users can download, but they are unable to be copied between devices, and are not cross-platform. They must be played in their own proprietary software players.

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.[17]

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[18]

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).


Limited interoperability with existing services
Several popular digital media stores, including as 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.[19]
Not all film studios provide content with UV rights
The Walt Disney Company does not provide UV rights with their digital content. Walt Disney recently launched its own competing digital rights locker called Disney Movies Anywhere (powered by keychest) that works with iTunes, Vudu, Amazon Video, and Google Play.[20] On September 8, 2015 Disney Movies Anywhere added support for Amazon Video and Microsoft Movies & TV.[21]
MGM has released their theatrical films with UV rights since 2012, but they have not made many older films available with UV rights. They have recently made a small number of their catalog films available with UV, but they do not participate in Disc to Digital services.
Confusing setup
Redemption sheets that come with physical discs often direct 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. Recently DECE rolled out a common redemption website, which has helped.[22]
UltraViolet codes also have an expiration date.
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]
HD video streams are not always available on mobile devices. Vudu offers HD streams and downloads on most Android devices, and Flixster offers HD streams on mobile devices for a limited number of films.



Many top movie studios quietly made plans to introduce an "Open Market" system proposed by Mitch Singer of Sony Pictures, in order to unite digital storefronts and allow interoperability of various digital rights management systems.[24]


In September, Mitch Singer, the President of DECE, announced the upcoming launch of the "UltraViolet" system in an interview with Home Media Magazine.[25]

In November, Walt Disney's CEO Bob Iger, hinted that Keychest (Disney's yet to be launched locker system) could eventually work with UltraViolet. He said "It's not our goal to create a format war."[26]


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.[27]

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.[28] Sony subsequently released its first two UV titles in December, The Smurfs and Friends with Benefits.[29] Universal soon followed with the release of its first UV title, Cowboys & Aliens.[30]

In December, UltraViolet launched in the UK with the Warner Bros release of Final Destination 5.[31]


At the Consumer Electronics Show in January, 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.[32]

On January 24, Paramount released its first UV title, Paranormal Activity 3.[33]

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.[34]

On April 15, DreamWorks Animation became the seventh studio to join the UltraViolet initiative.[35]

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.[36][37]

UltraViolet surpassed 2 million users on May 2.[38]

Lionsgate released its first UV title The Hunger Games on August 18.[39]

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.[40]

UltraViolet surpassed 5 million users and 7,200 titles on September 20.[41]

Redbox announced a partnership with UltraViolet for its new Redbox Instant streaming service. on October 25[42]

On October 30, Barnes & Noble announced it would launch an UltraViolet enabled electronic video store for its new Nook HD tablet.[43]

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.[44] 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.[45]

CinemaNow launched an In Home Disc to Digital service (in beta) just in time for Christmas.[46]


Jan 5: DreamWorks Animation and Technicolor launched MGO, a new streaming platform with UV capability.[47]

Jan 7: The DEG announced that 9 million UV accounts had been created, and that 8,500 UV titles were available.[48]

Jan 11: Cineplex became the first UltraViolet retailer in Canada.[49]

April 19: Mark Tietell revealed that UltraViolet had surpassed 12 million users.[50]

April 25: Best Buy announced a deal to make its UV ready Cinema Now service available in Canada.[51]

May 1: UltraViolet launched in Australia and New Zealand with the Warner Bros. film The Hobbit.[52]

May 2: Kaleidescape opened a UV ready video download store.[53]

May 9: 20th Century Fox announced it would offer Digital HD UltraViolet rights with all new films, and would stop including iTunes digital copies on a title by title basis.[54]

May 25: Disney debuted 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, Vudu, Target Ticket, or Google Play.[55]

June 3: Wal-Mart launched an In Home Disc to Digital service as a public beta.[56]

July 9: Lionsgate joined 20th Century Fox in dropping iTunes digital copies with Tyler Perry's Temptation and offering UV exclusive digital copies with most new releases.

Aug 7: The DEG announced that 10,000 titles were available and 13 million accounts had been created.[57]

Sept 3: CinemaNow launched its Disc to Digital service in Canada.[58]

Sept 25: Target Ticket launched with UltraViolet capability, and included 10 free titles for new users.[59]

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


Over the course of 2014, the number of UltraViolet accounts increased substantially, from 15 million in January[60] to 17 million in April[61] to over 20 million in November.

As of January 2014, UltraViolet surpassed 12,000 available titles.[62]

Jan 19: The DECE launched a completely revamped UltraViolet website with new features, such as the ability to delete films from a user's collection.[63]

Feb 25: Disney launched Disney Movies Anywhere a streaming service powered by its own KeyChest technology to connect to iTunes, which is used to purchase or redeem content for playback via its DMA website.[64]

Feb 26: Mitch Singer, President of DECE, stated that the new Disney Movies Anywhere service would not prohibit Disney from offering UltraViolet titles in the future.[65]

March 31: Vudu became the first UV retailer to offer Google Chromecast support for UltraViolet content.[66] Flixster followed suit a few days later.[67]

May 14, Vudu introduced a new feature that allows UltraViolet users to share their movies with up to five friends.[68]

May 21, Flixster became the first UV retailer to support Airplay, finally enabling UltraViolet users to watch their UV collection on an Apple TV.[69]

Aug 11: NPD released a survey finding that more than 14% of digital content purchases are from UltraViolet Users.[70]

Early in September, DECE launched a new common redemption site.[71]

Oct. 1: MGM began to offer UV rights for several of its catalog titles.

Oct. 14 Tesco's BlinkBox became the first official UV retailer in the U.K.[72]

Nov. 6: DEG reported that the number of UV accounts increased to 20 million. The number of titles available increased to 14,500.[73]

Nov. 12: KnowHow, a UK streaming movie provider, relaunches as CinemaNow and adds Ultraviolet support.[74]

Nov. 22: Verizon FIOS on Demand introduced UltraViolet capability.[75]


On January 6, The DEG announced that UltraViolet grew 30% in 2014 to 21 million accounts.[76]

French Supermarket Chain Carrefour opened a Digital Video Store with UltraViolet functionality called Nolim Films on January 27.[77]

Target Corporation shut down its Target Ticket service on March 7, and allowed users to transfer their movie library to CinemaNow.[78]

UltraViolet surpassed 22 million users on May 25.[79]

Australian UV Partner EZYFlix.tv closed down on August 18.[80]

See also[edit]

  • Keychest, Disney's service for redeeming iTunes digital downloaded films


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  53. ^ "Kaleidescape's online video store officially opens, promises Blu-ray quality downloads". 
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External links[edit]