Posts Tagged ‘UltraViolet’

UltraViolet: Gone, And Best Forgotten

As you can imagine, I get endless emails every day from PR agencies, manufacturers, trade shows, and technology research institutes. It takes a while to clear out all of that stuff and I usually do a quick scan through my Web-based email to save the few missives worthy of attention, deleting the rest.

On January 31, I almost deleted an email that at first appeared to be spam. But something about the header caught my eye: It appeared that the online movie and TV content locker UltraViolet was shutting its doors.

Sure enough, when I downloaded and read the email, that’s exactly what was happening. Here’s a quotation from the first few lines:

“We are writing to inform you that the UltraViolet service is planning to shut down on July 31, 2019. You are receiving this message because you signed up for an UltraViolet Library or for a service that created an UltraViolet Library for you.”

For those readers not familiar with the service, UltraViolet started nearly a decade ago as a way for people to secure unlimited access to digital copies movies online after purchasing physical DVD and Blu-ray discs. You entered a special code on the Blu-ray/DVD box in your UltraViolet account, and voila – you could then watch a digital copy anywhere you had an Internet connection.

It sounded like a good idea at the time, except that the process of registering discs and then logging in and accessing your digital copies was so convoluted that most people just gave up and moved entirely to streaming services like Amazon Prime and Netflix. UltraViolet was further hampered by lacking any movies from Disney, which was planning to roll out its own streaming service.

That service eventually became Movies Anywhere, which is now supported by Universal, WB, Sony Pictures and 20th Century Fox. And last year, 20th Century Fox, Universal Pictures and Lionsgate stopped distributing new-release movies on UltraViolet.

Practically speaking, there are very few movies I even want to have on Blu-ray discs these days. I think the last one I bought was the original Guardians of the Galaxy. More recently, I’ve downloaded movies from Google Play to my tablet and Roku receiver, the most recent being “First Reformed” (which should have gotten a best picture and best actor nomination, by the way).

For that matter, I hardly watch Blu-ray discs anymore, even though I have a pretty good-sized library of them. It’s just so much easier to stream movies from Netflix and Amazon Prime over my fast Comcast broadband connection, and the picture quality is impressive on the 92-inch screen in my rarely-used home theater. (Yeah, I’m getting lazy these days…)

The UltraViolet email advises customers to link their accounts to another retailer (presumably Amazon, Google, or iTunes) before they turn the lights out on July 31 of this year. But so what? I still have the original Blu-ray discs and quite a few players sitting around that I never use, so if I REALLY want to watch Men In Black II or Guardians again, I can just load up the disc and hit play.

It’s probably a sad commentary that so little coverage was provided for the shutdown. Variety was one of the first outlets to report it and TechCrunch had a story not long after. That’s about it. My guess is, despite UltraViolet’s claim that they had over 30 million customers, most of those customers registered accounts a long time ago and have since moved on to other streaming and download services.

Gone, and best forgotten…