Another battle looms in the quest for online content distribution; this time it seems to be serious business. When major Hollywood film studios get together to develop a new system for online film distribution you can either be afraidor be very afraid.
Ultraviolet is the digital download system aiming to corner the market for the studios because theyve seen how Apple and iTunes cornered the music market. It launched in the US with Horrible Bosses and then gave us Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. How does it work?
When you buy a movie on DVD or BluRay, youll get a code so you can add it to your Ultraviolet library. You can download the digital version of you movie choice onto your computer or put it into the Cloud and stream it. Is it a move to a new format war? Could Ultraviolet morph into, metaphorically, A Clockwork Orange ultraviolence?
With the Ultraviolet Alliance boasting a 70-company consortium of film industry businesses, think Adobe, Comcast, Dell, Microsoft, Netflix, Sky, Sony, Warner Brothers etc., its going to take time to see how the concept pans out. The Alliance reckons downloaded movies can be put on to any device, so tablet PCs, smartphones and computers are all in the frame. With iTunes tying its users to the likes of the iPhone and iPad for watching movies on the go, there may be something in it.
Film studios also hope that the Ultraviolet approach will reduce ripping of DVDs as consumers will get a digital version of their movie when they buy a DVD. The industry has even indicated it may eventually allow consumers to add movies they already own on DVD to their accounts so they can enjoy them online without having to rip them.
Ultraviolet, which as been three years in development, is currently only available in the United States but it is expected to be offered in the UK and rest of Europe next year.
Initial soundings from consumers have been so-so. Downloading is said to be difficult for some, and what if youve already bought films in different formats? Will minds and technology meet anywhere? In the battle for content distribution and the big bucks at stake, lets go for a big zero.