LAS VEGAS — The UltraViolet digital content locker system
intended to let consumers pay one price to purchase
movie and TV titles for playback on multiple home and
handheld devices, is starting to solidify into
what could become the backbone to the
burgeoning multi-screen revolution, supporters
revealed at International CES.
Mark Teitell, executive director and general
manager of the Digital Entertainment
Content Ecosystem (DECE), a group of
more than 70 companies connected to
the film and CE industries to develop and
promote UltraViolet, said at media briefing
during CES that the system made a lot of
progress following its launch in 2011, having
three studios — Warner Bros., Sony
Corp. and Universal — deploy while a fourth
— Paramount — announced it will soon be
marketing UltraViolet content as well.
Consumers today using UltraViolet can
already stream and download content to
PCs, Macs, and Android and iOS handheld devices, but
the late launch of UltraViolet last year coupled with the
need to use a computer to sign up, get a code to authenticate
title ownership and maintain an UltraViolet library, left
a number of early reviewers frustrated.
So far around 20 films have been released with Ultra-
Violet rights but the studios are expecting that to reach at
least 100 Blu-ray titles this year.
Teitell said that even in the early stages, 750,000 household
accounts (more than 1 million people) had registered
as UltraViolet early adopters.
The numbers should grow significantly in 2012, the
DECE contends, following announcements at CES that
Samsung and Panasonic will market Blu-ray Disc players
with built-in UltraViolet support.
Samsung’s players — the BD-ES6000 and BD-6500
— will leverage UltraViolet to perform a number of different
UV related tasks including, signing up
for and maintaining an UltraViolet account,
and using a Flixster player app to view and
play what is in a user’s personal UltraViolet
The Samsung devices will even include a
DVD-to-digital feature that will let consumers
add certain movies they bought on DVD
or Blu-ray before UltraViolet existed to their
online collection for an unspecified fee.
So far, consumers have been required to
follow the instructions on a Blu-ray package,
go to a website with a PC and enter a code
to stream UltraViolet content. But the new
Samsung players incorporate Rovi-developed
software that will automatically read
the Blu-ray Disc and step users through the
process of registering for an account and
adding the disc title to a personal or family library.
In addition, Samsung’s and Panasonic’s UltraViolet
Blu-ray players (and certain Panasonic smart TVs as well)
will have Flixster pre-installed enabling users who already
have UltraViolet libraries created, to use the players to access
and play UV registered titles.
Also during a press conference at CES, Bill Carr, Amazon’s
executive VP, announced that Amazon.com will soon
start selling digital downloads of movies from one undisclosed
studio using the UltraViolet format.
The move means that users will no longer be limited
to using only the Warner Bros.-owned Flixster service to
stream UltraViolet movies.