February 1, 2019
Bad news for avid movie fans, as ‘digital locker’ service UltraViolet has announced that it is to shut up shop later in the year.
The service provided an easy solution for those looking to access all their digital movies in one place, without having to visit several different platforms to watch their library online.
UltraViolet won’t officially go offline until July this year, and the brand is working with retailers to ensure viewers will still have access to their movies currently stored on the service.
What Is (Was) UltraViolet?
Launched in 2011, UltraViolet was an effort by the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE), a collective of movie industry representatives, to make managing digital movie content easier for consumers.
It did this by providing a single platform for digital licenses to be collected, with viewers able to manage their movie library from one place, rather than having to log into numerous individual services.
Movie purchasers buying a DVD or Blu-ray disc would be issued with a code that could be redeemed on Ultraviolet’s site. This provided digital access to the content.
It launched with backing from major studios, with the likes of Sony, Warner Bros, Paramount and Universal all supporting the service, at least initially. Some have since parted ways with the digital locker in favor of its competitors.
Why is UltraViolet Closing?
While UltraViolet had some big names behind it, there was one that always eluded the service – Disney. In the early days of UltraViolet, the House of Mouse adopted a ‘wait and see’ approach publicly. However, behind the scenes, it was actually developing its own digital locker, Movies Anywhere, which launched in 2014.
With content from Walt Disney Studios, Universal Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros and Sony Pictures, Movies Anywhere has substantial support from the industry.
Many consider Disney’s refusal to get onboard with UltraViolet to be a serious issue, especially when studios started to make the transition from UltraViolet to Movies Anywhere. Fox, Lionsgate and Universal are among those who stopped issuing UltraViolet rights for newer films within the last year.
Movie Anywhere also holds another ace up its sleeve – it’s available on most popular digital storefronts, including Amazon Video, Google Play and iTunes. This makes the service genuinely convenient for users. UltraViolet was streamable on Apple and Android devices using third-party apps, but the lack of a dedicated first-party app hurt it in the long run.
In an interview with Variety, DECE president Wendy Aylsworth commented that the market had evolved significantly in recent years, and that it was clear that digital ownership of movies is ‘in good hands’, reducing the need of UltraViolet.
She also stated its closure ‘doesn’t really have anything to do with Movies Anywhere’, but that seems slightly disingenuous, given Disney’s continued power grab in the space.
What Will Happen to My Movies?
Despite UltraViolet closing, it doesn’t mean that you will lose access to your movies. The service doesn’t actually host the movies itself, but instead collects the various licences for movies you have purchased into one place.
UltraViolet has told its customers to link their libraries to the retailers own services through the UltraViolet site, including those from Flixster and Vudu, to retain access to your content.
UltraViolet has stated that users shouldn’t close their accounts, as it is working with these retailers ensure a smooth transition for users. There’s no need to panic, as the service won’t actually close its doors for good until the 31st of July this year.
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