UltraViolet might sound too good to be true, but the service is growing. More Blu-ray titles are featuring the digital media option and consumers are at least trying the movie industry’s alternative to, well, piracy. iSupply just announced that there are now more than 800,000 household accounts, up from 750,000 at the beginning of 2012. But so far it seems most of those accounts are just testing the waters, as iSupply notes that the average account has 1.25 titles. That results in over 1 million digital films for UltraViolet but also paints a picture that consumers aren’t too sure about the service.
“One million may not sound like much compared to the 504 million movie discs sold in 2011,” noted Tom Adams, principal analyst and director, U.S. media, for IHS stated in today’s announcement. “However, we have projected that only 19 million digital film files were sold during the entire year of 2011 by electronic sell-through (EST) vendors like iTunes, Xbox Live and Vudu. This suggests that if UV can continue to gain momentum this year, it could encourage consumers to buy more movies. Movie purchasing represents an important priority for movie studios, which have seen their film sales dwindle in the face of growing physical and digital rentals and streaming services like Netflix.”
UltraViolet is the movie industry’s first major push into digital media. Rather than relying on a 3rd party like Netflix, UltraViolet is run by the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE), a consortium of major Hollywood studios, CE makers, retailers and DRM vendors. These companies came together in 2008 and proposed the digital locker service now called UltraViolet that lets consumers store and share digital media. Originally these movie titles were only to be bundled with physical media but Paramount started selling UltraViolet titles seperatly late last month. With UltraViolet, consumers can watch media on up to 12 devices and share between six members of the household. Content can either be downloaded or streamed from the cloud.
So far the UltraViolet selection is still very limited. Paramount has about 60 titles from their online store. UVVU.com keeps a running list of new UltraViolet releases. But in order for people to ditch Netflix (and illegal downloads) UltraViolet needs to have content. Once again, content is king.
Now that UltraViolet has a growing user base, the next milestone should involve seeing the average amount of titles in the digital lockers increase. Sign-ups are easy (and free), retention is hard.
We interviewed DECE’s president Mitch Singer at CES where he explained UltraViolet in detail. Watch the interview below.