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. 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, 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.
- 1 Operation
- 2 Content partners
- 3 UltraViolet digital retailers
- 4 Download capability
- 5 Selected DRM technologies
- 6 Drawbacks
- 7 History
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 External links
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.
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.
Five of the "Big Six" major film studios and "mini-major" Lionsgate are members of DECE, and release their content with UltraViolet rights. Other minor film and television studios release their programming and movies with UltraViolet rights, but are not DECE members.
- Major film studios
- Minor Film Studios
- Television Studios
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. Non-participation in the DECE consortium does not prohibit Disney from releasing films with UltraViolet rights later.
UltraViolet digital retailers
UltraViolet content is available from many existing movie streaming services, using their existing streaming and DRM technologies. Some services offer downloads that can be saved on PCs, 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.
Comparison of streaming providers
|Resolution||Disc to Digital||Movies Anywhere|
|SD (480p)||HD (720p)||HDX (1080p)||UHD (4k)|
|FandangoNow (previously M-GO)|
Other less notable streaming providers include: Kaleidescape, Verizon FIOS On Demand, Sainsbury's Entertainment, Videociety and Nolim Films.
Player support of streaming providers
|Set-top box||Video game console||Smartphone / Tablet|
|Apple TV||Chromecast||Fire TV||Xbox 360||Xbox One||PS3||PS4||iOS||Android||Windows Phone|
|FandangoNow (previously M-Go)||AirPlay|
Streaming providers availability by country
The following information comes from the UltraViolet FAQ.
Some Ultraviolet streaming providers offer the capability to download movies and TV shows. They have their own proprietary video formats but they are not cross-platform. They must be downloaded and played within their own proprietary PC, Mac, 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 library.
No UV streaming providers have announced support for the CFF. Following the 2015 simplification of the UV ecosystem, the Common File Format was made optional. Studios are no longer required to provide CFF encodes, and retailers are no longer required to make CFF downloads available. No UV CFF players or software has been released by manufacturers.
Selected DRM technologies
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
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).
- 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.
- 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. On September 8, 2015 Disney Movies Anywhere added support for Amazon Video and Microsoft Movies & TV. Since 2017, support for Microsoft has been discontinued. In October 2017 Disney announced that it would be shutting down Disney Movies Anywhere and migrating its content to a new service called Movies Anywhere, which Disney also owns. Movies Anywhere is a digital movies locker that includes Disney content plus movies from iTunes, Amazon Video, Google Play, and Vudu.
- 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 eventual launch of Vidity, which is compatible with UltraViolet.
This section is in a list format that may be better presented using prose. (February 2014)
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.
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. Sony subsequently released its first two UV titles in December, The Smurfs and Friends with Benefits. Universal soon followed with the release of its first UV title, Cowboys & Aliens.
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.
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.
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.
UltraViolet surpassed 2 million users as of May 2.
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.
UltraViolet surpassed 5 million users and 7,200 titles on September 20.
On November 20, Disney announced it would shut down its DisneyMoviesOnline service in late December. Some industry insiders predicted that Disney would abandon its competing "keychest" technology and join the UltraViolet system. However, the launch of DMA on February 25, 2014 confirmed that prediction was pre-mature.
Jan 7: The DEG announced that 9 million UV accounts had been created, and that 8,500 UV titles were available.
May 9: 20th Century Fox announced it would offer Digital HD UltraViolet rights with all new films.
June 3: Wal-Mart launched an In Home Disc to Digital service as a public beta.
Aug 7: The DEG announced that 10,000 titles were available and 13 million accounts had been created.
Sept 3: CinemaNow launched its Disc to Digital service in Canada.
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 to over 20 million in November.
At the beginning of the year, there were 12,000 titles with UltraViolet rights available in the ecosystem.
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.
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.
In May, Vudu introduced a new feature that allows UltraViolet users to share their movies with up to five friends.
On Aug 11th, NPD released a survey finding that more than 14% of digital content purchases are from UltraViolet Users.
Early in September, DECE launched a new common redemption site.
MGM began to offer UV rights for several of its catalog titles in early October.
On Nov. 12: KnowHow, a UK streaming movie provider, relaunched as CinemaNow and added Ultraviolet support.
On January 6, The DEG announced that UltraViolet grew 30% in 2014 to 21 million accounts.
French Supermarket Chain Carrefour opened a Digital Video Store with UltraViolet functionality called Nolim Films on January 27.
Target Corporation shut down its Target Ticket service on March 7, and allowed users to transfer their purchases to CinemaNow and Disney Movies Anywhere.
UltraViolet surpassed 22 million users on May 25.
Australian UV Partner EZYFlix.tv closed down on August 18.
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.
On January 29, Fandango acquired the MGO movie service, and plans to re-launch it later this year under a new name.
On March 3, Barnes and Noble announced that it would shutter its Nook Video Store on March 15.
On March 30, MGO became Fandango Now and launched Airplay support.
On April 4, BlinkBox - Owned by TalkTalk stopped supporting the PlayStation 3.
On Sept 1, the Cineplex Store stopped offering Ultraviolet services.
On March 20, JB Hi-Fi NOW Video service announced that it would close on 13 April 2017.
On March 23, Vudu expanded its Disc to Digital service. Users can now convert their movie library using the Vudu app on a mobile phone. They also announced that the in store Disc to Digital program would be suspended on April 1.
As of March 27, Ultraviolet accounts grew to 28 million.
In April it was noticed that movies from Relativity Media, that where distributed by 20th Century Fox were no longer UV enabled. If you had purchased/redeemed the movie prior to the removal of UV rights. The movie remains in your UV locker.
In late May, Universal Studios began referring to UltraViolet as only "Digital HD" on the back of its Blu-ray releases. 20th Century Fox started this practice in 2016. Both studios films are still UltraViolet enabled at select retailers.
In July, Warner Bros. Entertainment began referring to UltraViolet as "Digital Movie" on the back of its Blu-ray releases. Movies are still UltraViolet enabled at select retailers.
In mid-July, CinemaNow removed UV support for all movies. Questions to Ultraviolet were answered with the response, "CinemaNow is not participating in UV at this time."
On August 1, CinemaNow links now lead to error pages. Leading many to believe it has ceased operations.
On August 21, U.S. Flixster Video announced "As of August 28, 2017, Flixster Video will no longer support code redemption or streaming and downloading of content. Redeem codes and access your Flixster video collection after that date by signing up or logging into Vudu or FandangoNOW."
On August 22, Vudu launched their AppleTV app, which became the first app to support UltraViolet movies and TV shows on the Apple TV platform. 
On October 12, 2017, it was announced that Disney Movies Anywhere would expand to include non-Disney studios under the name Movies Anywhere, with 20th Century Fox, Sony Pictures, Universal, and Warner Bros. joining Disney as initial partners, and Lionsgate and Paramount Pictures expressing interest. The Verge felt that the Movies Anywhere platform "appears to be the common-sense solution consumers should have had years ago", and that it could be used to replace the commercially-unsuccessful UltraViolet platform backed by the majority of studios besides Disney.
- Movies Anywhere, Disney's competing digital rights locker.
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