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Is Ultraviolet What The Film Industry Needs?
It could be argued that the film industry is built on hope. Movies are a fantasy and millions of actors head to LA in the hope of movie stardom. Now the film industry itself has a hope: the hope of getting it’s consumers to buy films again, and this time in a more cost-effective way. Not producing DVDs and DVD cases: the film industry is going online and selling via cloud based services. It is all about the end users.
The film industry is arguing that cloud-based streaming will beat downloading, which takes up a lot of hard disc space and can take time. You can also stream to any device. Streaming also fixes one of the most annoying things about buying films: your purchase becoming obsolete when the latest technology comes out. See VHS, although Blu-ray is yet to kill off DVDs.
If this is a hit and it enables digital sales – or “electronic sell through”, as it is referred to the film business then the film industry will be sitting pretty.
Are these hopes futile? Can cloud-based services make consumers start buying again instead of renting? Well, that is up for debate, but the film industry sure is taking a shot. Retail sales have been dismal but the film industry is hitting back. Last year Ultraviolet was launched. Rick Finkelstein, chief operating officer of Universal Pictures said: “We have to make EST easier, If you can store a movie in the cloud and watch it on any device, that’s a great consumer proposition. And you don’t have to watch it in 24 or 48 hours, like you do with rental.”
So what exactly is Ultraviolet? It is a a cloud based rights locker and authentication system. It also has the backing of big retailers like Best Buy, technology groups HP, Intel and Cisco and phone brands Nokia and Motorola. Apple have bowed out. Possibly working on their own?
Universal, Paramount, Warner Brothers, Sony Pictures and Fox have all jumped on-board Ultraviolet. In fact, every big studio has except Disney.
There has been some controversy about Ultraviolet: Walmart announced in March an exclusive disc to digital conversion service which started on April the 16th in more than 3,500 of their stores. You can bring any DVD or Blue-ray disc and get it adds to your Vudu movie collection, but it will cost you from $2 per movie to watch the movie you already paid for online. If you own a non-HD DVD it will cost you £5 to upgrade. There has been some uproar from consumers at paying twice to watch a film. They may have a point since it cost movie studios basically nothing to store the movie in the cloud. At most you are talking two cents and a further four cents to pay to stream the movie to the user.
By Catherine Balavage