New Digital Media Format Dubbed 'UltraViolet' Unveiled at CES
It's about time. Hollywood is taking a huge step forward in digital distribution today. Six major studios have announced a new "service and format" called UltraViolet, created by the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE). Although I cherish my always-growing Blu-Ray collection, I recognize that the future is headed towards digital disc-less distribution, and along with Netflix Instant, which I already use and love, UltraViolet sounds like it's the next step in evolving the digital distribution medium. There are various press releases and details arriving in from multiple events at CES in Las Vegas, so there's plenty to read on this.
Among the studios supporting UltraViolet are Lionsgate Entertainment, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox, Universal Pictures and Warner Bros. "Complementing the physical DVD and Blu-ray home entertainment markets, studios will begin offering UltraViolet content this year through digital online retailers and digital rights that come with packaged media, giving consumers the ability to watch digital entertainment across multiple platforms such as connected TVs, PCs, game consoles and smartphones." So it sounds like they're trying to come up with one unifying system for movie distribution and ownership, if that's what I'm understanding from this press release, which sounds terrific.
Here's how The Wrap explains it: "Get to know the name UltraViolet. By next year you'll be able to play all the movies and shows you download over almost any device -- from TVs to smartphones to tablets to PCs to Blu-ray players. You'll also be able to burn them onto DVDs and share them with family and friends." That sounds like a dream come true, if this is all real. Is that exactly what we're getting? That is their basic plan with it for now. In addition to those aforementioned studios, other stakeholders in the service include media behemoth Comcast as well as Microsoft, Best Buy and yep, even our pal Netflix. I'm sure Apple and Amazon will join eventually - as they're my two primary digital media destinations at the moment.
"These six major Hollywood studios were a driving force in creating UltraViolet, and their plans to make films and television shows available through the UltraViolet ecosystem cements a milestone union among the content, technology and retail services industries," said Mark Teitell, General Manager of the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE). "In 2011, UltraViolet will substantially raise the bar on the electronic home entertainment experiences in-market today."
Here's a look at what's next: Initially, consumers will only be able to play content they have stored in the cloud-based account by downloading UltraViolet-optimized media player apps for PCs, game consoles and smart mobile devices. In early 2012, the first electronic devices designed specifically for UltraViolet are expected to become available. Consumers will also be able to register up to 12 devices so UltraViolet content can be easily downloaded or shared between them. If you're looking for more specific details, PR Newswire has a full press release with tons of details, and Engadget has a good article from back in July when the "digital locker" concept was first being discussed. This sounds like it's a progressive idea with big potential.
The digital revolution already has begun and a future where DVDs may not even exist for purchase anymore seems a lot closer than ever before. As a big fan of Netflix and OnDemand as well as DVDs and theatrical viewing (the only true way to see cinema), I'm a supporter of all these formats and curious to explore every one, as I'm looking for the best way to enjoy more good movies. "Today's announcement that UltraViolet is ready shows that the entertainment and technology communities have made good on their promise to give the world a new, user-friendly digital standard for collecting movies and TV shows in the digital age," said DECE's Mark Teitell. Let's hope UltraViolet really does live up to that promise. I'll be following closely.