Ultra Violet? Disc to Digital? Is it Dead Yet?
So a few weeks ago I was lying in bed and wanted to re-watch the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (HP8) movie. I turned on my Apple TV, searched to buy it and could not find it. So I pulled out my iPad and Googled it. One of the hits came back that it was on sale in Canada but not in the USA (in fact the link to the Canadian iTunes store which would not work on my iPad). What dawned on me is that Canada does not yet have the Ultra Violet service. Some of the other search results came back with complaints from users getting the "Digital Copy" with purchase of the HP8 Blu-Ray and discovering that their digital copy was not an iTunes copy. Instead it was a copy from this new Ultra Violet service. Which lead me to search results showing tons of complaints on Flixter's website since users are instructed to use their player to watch Ultra Violet digital copies and they were having nothing but problems. In order to promote Ultra Violet, Warner had pulled HP8 from iTunes in the USA and started marking digital copies with Blu-Ray purchase exclusively with the Ultra Violet service. Warner also lost out on an instant sale of $19.99, of which they would have gotten 70%.
Consumers have chosen their platforms for digital movies because the movie industry dragged their feet for far too long. We have Netflix, iTunes, Google Play, Amazon Video on Demand, and many more services. Some are simply using torrents because they could not buy what they wanted -- I don't condone it, but I see it as inevitable for any commodity that people are willing and anxious to buy but are denied the opportunity to buy.
Consumers chose a given platform once that platform earned their trust and the consumers belief that it would be around for a while and therefore a good place to store their digital movie collection. Customers also chose based on customer service. The movie industry has a long history of screwing honest paying consumers and milking them for every dime. Now the movie industry wants consumers to trust them with their purchased collection of digital videos. They want us to trust that a fledgling service is going to be around for the long haul and in five years I am not going to run into a scenario where I try to play a movie and get an error message that my player could not connect to DRM services to authorize me because those servers no longer exist. They want us to trust that without a middle-man negotiating for the best prices that they aren't going to charge us top-dollar to upgrade from SD to HD to 4K as new formats become available. Somehow locking-in with the movie industry's solution does not look very inviting.
In short, Ultra Violet is a solution to the problem that the movie industry wants a way to control pricing and policy. If you ask me, it does not represent a "standardization" but rather a form of "collusion" to undermine existing businesses and establish price fixing. It does not solve any consumer problem. In fact the movie industry is creating problems for consumers (and encouraging more piracy) by restricting access to their content that we are willing to pay for.
I have been anxiously waiting for news of Ultra Violet being a miserable failure and its certain death. I have been waiting to hear that Walmart's "Disc to Digital" service has completely flopped. I've anxiously waited for HP8 to return to iTunes in the USA and I even sent a nasty letter to Warner Bros stating I would not buy their stuff unless they made it available via the content ecosystem I wanted it on.
What I am wondering is if folks have any updates or news regarding Ultra Violet or Disc-to-Digital. Is it dead yet? Almost dead? I know of nobody who has used it which is a great sign. If the movie industry keeps up with this crap, I would personally find it hilarious if their content got pirated to the degree that the music industry faced a decade ago so that they would lose all leverage with content providers.
On a side note.... Viacom is no different in withholding their content from viewers -- on DirecTV and on the Internet. They are spreading FUD and trying to undermine the business of DirecTV in a power play. I am not even a DirecTV subscriber (we use Dish Network in our home), but I am rooting for DirecTV in a big way. Customers choose content ecosystems and subscription services that suit them best. The movie and television industry should be happy selling their content to all instead of trying to manipulate pricing and seize control from their retailers.