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 library.
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
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.