UltraViolet service to close down

Ultra let down by UltraViolet

by Andy Bassett Feb 1, 2019 at 2:38 PM

  • You’ve entrusted your digital movies to a well-supported service and then find out the ‘off’ button is about to be pushed. Luckily, you’ve still got all your DVDs, Blu-rays and UHD Blu-rays, right!?
    UltraViolet, the cloud-based digital storage ‘locker’ for movies and TV is to close down, it has been announced. The service, which stored proof of purchase details and enabled playback on different devices using multiple applications from several different streaming services, will shut on 31st July 2019, affecting an estimated 30 million members.

    The statement came from The Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE), which runs the service for the partner studios who initially signed up to the concept.

    In order to access your library after this date, US users will need to link their accounts to a retailer that supports UltraViolet films, at which point they can then be downloaded. UK users will need to download them through Flixster. The DECE has provided details on the UltraViolet webpage about service members’ next steps.

    They also advise, ”Linking to additional retailers can maximize your access to your Library and help avoid potential disruption. In most cases, we anticipate very little impact, particularly in the United States. Most, and perhaps all, existing rights in UltraViolet Libraries currently available through your linked retailers that are still operating should continue to be available from those retailers.”

    Of course, this is all well and good providing those retailers themselves remain solvent. A case in point being Flixster in the UK, which will now be the only way to access UV movies this side of the pond, and which offers downloads via mobile and desktop apps. Already closed in the US, if/when it ceases trading in the UK, then members' cloud-based libraries will be lost.

    DVDs, Blu-rays and UHD Blu-rays bought over the last 8 or 9 years from the participating studios contained a code in the box which could be redeemed via several websites, including dedicated locations for the studios themselves. Once redeemed, the digital version was made available to users through different retailers and online services. So what has gone wrong?

    Well, the reason seems to be that the industry feels the service is no longer needed. DECE president, Wendy Aylsworth, said, “The marketplace for collecting entertainment content was very small when Ultraviolet started. It was siloed into walled gardens at the time.”

    In the last year or so, many retailers withdrew support for UltraViolet digital lockers and Flixster closed in the US around the same time.

    The irony is, that as the number of digital content increases, so the methods of storing and accessing it are becoming more fragmented.

    Looking on the positive side though, since the proof of purchase code usually came with a movie disc purchase, most consumers still have their physical media and will not actually ‘lose’ their movies but rather the convenience of watching them however and whenever they wish.

    Are you a regular UltraViolet user? If so, how will this affect you? Let us know in the discussion thread.

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