Hollywood tries again to shine light on UltraViolet

Numerous film studios' initiative to seed the cloud with movies hasn't caught on yet with consumers, so the push is on to tweak the offering and generate some demand.

A shot of actress Noomi Rapace from the film Prometheus.
(Credit: 20th Century Fox )

Ultraviolet light is invisible to humans — and similarly, it's been hard to spot the movie-locker system named UltraViolet (UV).

UV is a set of standards and specifications created by a consortium of Hollywood film studios, software and hardware companies, and web retailers. The technology is designed to create an ecosystem that enables consumers to store their films in the cloud, and then access the titles with any one of the different UV-compatible web-connected devices.

With DVD sales ailing, UV is supposed to entice consumers to start buying movies again. The only problem is, consumers haven't shown much interest. The reasons are varied; UV-compatible movies have trickled out and the number of UV-compatible sites and devices are few. A much-heralded relationship between UV and the US chain-store Walmart (which agreed to store customer's DVDs or Blu-ray discs through customer UV accounts on its own cloud, and with access to the cloud costing up toUS$5 a disc) was a non-starter for many.

So here we are again, with UV's backers trying to expand its profile.

In recent weeks, we've seen Paramount Pictures sign a distribution deal with Flixster, that gives it non-exclusive rights to make 600 of the studios' titles available for UV. Barnes & Noble launched Nook Video, a service aimed at the book chain's tablet that will also be a UV partner. Chris Dodd, the former senator who is now chief of the Motion Picture Association of America, spoke in San Francisco, California, last month and talked up the UV effort.

Over at News Corp-owned 20th Century Fox, the studio is launching a digital effort that will give online shoppers access to new releases sooner than in the past, and for a better price. The new program co-exists with UV.

Fox announced last month that it plans to offer Ridley Scott's science-fiction thriller Prometheusonline three weeks before making the movie available on video-on-demand or disc. The movie would typically sell for US$20, but will now be less than US$15.

Fox was slow to offer UV movies, and Jim Gianopulos, chairman of Fox Filmed Entertainment, told the New York Times that this it was due to concern about "the workability of the locker system". Early on, UV was plagued with technical glitches.

Let's hope the other studios follow Fox's lead. Consumers want earlier access to new releases; they want lower prices and they don't want them tied to DVDs. Gianopulos told the Times that Fox would offer all of its new movies earlier and at lower prices, for an indefinite time.

Via CNET.com

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Chandler posted a comment   

Nevermind the fact that UV is (or was, at least) a subscription-based offering.

Yeah, for an extra $5 you can access that DVD digitally... but only for a year, then you have to cough up more dough.

Is that still the deal, and this "rebirth" of UV is just the media industry trying something different but the same, or have they actually listened to consumers *gasp*...


thesorehead posted a comment   

Consumers savvy enough to know and/or care about such services are already ripping and transcoding their own DVD collection to play on their home network, each of which was purchased at a lower price, offers higher quality, includes extra features and is available with or without an Internet connection.

Everyone else just does something else with their time if they don't have, or don't like the price of, the DVD/BRD.

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