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Universal Launches Studio's First Australian UltraViolet Enabled Disc

A screenshot of the Django Unchained UltraViolet redemption page
Sean Fang Thu, 06/06/2013 - 20:53

Universal's Django Unchained, released in Australia on the 6th of June, will be the first Universal title to feature support for UltraViolet, Hollywood's latest attempt to tap into the lucrative cloud video streaming marketplace.

UltraViolet, first launched in the United States in late 2011, has only just made its way down under, with the first title carrying UltraViolet support being The Hobbit, released in April of this year. Discs carrying UltraViolet content will allow the disc owner to register a "proof of purchase" with the service, which then enables the streaming or downloading of a copy of the movie via one of the approved UltraViolet providers. This allows movie fans to build up a cloud based movie collection, even if they continue to purchase movies on discs.

Based on the U.S. experience, movies that include an UltraViolet version usually does not carry a price premium. Or more accurately, studios often choose to include the UltraViolet version on the standard, or the only, edition of the film on both Blu-ray and DVD. Django Unchained, for example, is only available on two editions, the DVD and the Blu-ray edition, both of which includes the UltraViolet version of the film.

UltraViolet films can also be purchased in a standalone fashion.

But despite the price incentives, UltraViolet has not been met with huge consumer approval, especially not during its initial turbulent U.S. launch. One of the major flaws of the UltraViolet system is that it does not have a central platform for streaming or downloading. Instead, each studio can choose which streaming or download provider will supply the UltraViolet edition of the film, and this has led to a fracturing of the service. For example, in the United States, Warner Bros. uses its own Flixter service to enable UltraViolet streaming for its films, but discs made by Universal will use VUDU instead. In Australia, JB Hi-Fi's NOW Video service is the only UltraViolet provider at the moment. As a result, consumer have complained about the complicated sign-up process, usually requiring the user to sign up to half a dozen different content platforms, not to mention first creating an UltraViolet account, before they can stream or download a film.

Major video platforms, such as Apple's iTunes or Amazon, have also not signed up to UltraViolet, and Disney studios remains the largest studio to refuse to back the format.

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