This autumn video entertainment buying will take the long-overdue revolutionary step of buying once and accessing on multiple devices from a single, central account. Hallelujah! For those that don't want the physical Blu-Rays, it's also being reported that there will be digital only options available through the UltraViolet project. Of course, buying the Blu-Ray and getting the digital versions is what we've all wanted and called for, and yet, still seems almost like a bonus.
Perhaps that's because we've never viewed the movie industry as really in tune with consumers or known for making good decisions. Remember Val Kilmer's Batman suit with nipples? I rest my case.
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The great thing about Ultraviolet is that they keep all your content on their servers, you don't have to send what you've got up there, and you can access that content on up to a dozen devices. But the real question is, will they be charging a premium for this access, as in, will we see a price increase on Blu-Rays? Also, what kind of digital-only options will there be? Subscription? Per unit rentals and purchases? Both? Something new?
If you're not sure just how cool this is, check out this list of partners in the project:
While you might not have noticed anyone missing, there are a couple: Amazon, Apple, Disney, Google are all absent from that list. Hopefully, they'll all strike deals to work with the UV consortium because if not, they might get burned (pun!). Imagine if the UV group suddenly starts saying things like, "you have to allow UV users access to their content in order to get this streaming license contract." Of course, that doesn't apply to Disney, but does for the retailers.
We do know that there are other projects in the works to test other business models (like stupid super-premium post cinema rentals for ridiculous money $25-30), but I have to believe that UltraViolet is going to be the one that brings it all together and is fairly consumer friendly about it. They've gone about it in a very smart way. There will be one store and you can get your content from a variety of sources. So no matter where you're logged in, as long as it's a UV partner, you'll have access to your whole library.
So Bright, I gotta wear shades
That's just true brilliance in the design right there. If say you've got a VUDU, Cinema Now and Netflix account and you've got content all three. If all three become UV partners, regardless of where you're logged in, you should be able to access the content. Provided the content is part of the UV system.
It doesn't do away with multiple logins, like Adobe Pass is aiming to do and I applaud, but it does cut down on the terrible fragmentation that has been occurring in the industry with everyone starting up their own digital delivery, requiring a unique login and generally making online video buying a pain for online consumers.
I recently wrote about how the double pack (DVD and Blu-Ray) would soon be a triple pack (with digital copy) and that seems to be the way the industry is going, which is a very good thing I think. I personally hate clutter in my life and, as far as I'm concerned, CDs, DVDs and even Blu-Rays, become clutter after a while. I would much rather have a nice clean area with just what I need and the majority of my video (and audio) entertainment invisible yet readily available on all of my devices. I know some of you out there are hoarders and need that physical manifestation of your collection and I'm not knocking it, I'm just saying that I don't. That is at least more easy to understand than the movie cards that Wal-mart is selling.
UltraViolet certainly seems to be tying together a lot of things I've been talking about lately and I hope that I'll get a peek under the hood in the very near future to give you the low down on what you can expect and maybe a bit of how it all works.
Ultraviolet is also working on a household account basis. So up to six individuals can have personalized preferences and access a single library of content from those 12 devices I mentioned earlier. This also includes built in parental controls to make sure your kids stay safe and don't break out your adult how-to films.
It definitely seems like this is what we've been calling for in regards to digital and physical video entertainment convergence. Let's just hope that they stay on target and hit that sweet spot for consumers which combines price point and accessibility.