Hollywood has always profited from movie format innovations. Until recently, the studios would make huge bucks every time electronics companies come up with a new kind of tape or disc. (Own Titanic on VHS? You must have the DVD, too! Then don't forget the Blu-ray!) The cloud-based UltraViolet is the latest format, and it's a little bit different. Now, when you buy a DVD or Blu-ray movie from participating Hollywood studios, you'll also receive a 12-digit access code to the UltraViolet digital version that can be watched on any device yjay cam run the Flixter app. Early reports say that the UltraViolet titles won't cost more than regular DVDs, but still we're left to wonder why someone who prefers the convenience of digital streaming would be interested in owning a physical copy of a movie at all? Studio executives don't seem to have a great answer to that question, but whether its redundant or not, UltraViolet works great, they say (see the explainer graphic below). Critics seem less sure.
The cloud is the future. This isn't really news, but the way that movie studios are keeping a tight grip on streaming rights shows some novel methods of competing in the digitally dominant media space. Right now, everyone from Apple and Amazon to Netflix and Blockbuster have to secure licensing deals in order to stream movies directly from the cloud. The UltraViolet consortium--which includes pretty much every major studio except Disney--hopes to give consumers another, more direct option of streaming directly from the studio. In doing so, Hollywood holds on to heftier profit margins by avoiding splitting the pie with a technology partner. Disney is in fact going totally solo and launching their own streaming service in the next few months called Disney Studio All Access. After all, streaming services are clearly more convenient. "[Cloud storage] gives the benefit of ownership without the issues of long download time, storage constraints and the lack of interoperability," says Disney executive vice president Lori MacPhearson.