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Paramount First to Sell UltraViolet Movies Directly

By - Source: The Verge | B 25 comments

Paramount is selling UltraViolet movies without forcing a hard copy purchase, but comes with strict limitations.

Following news that Amazon will sell codes for UltraViolet movies without forcing consumers to purchase physical discs, Paramount Pictures will be the first studio to offer digital movie purchases directly from its website. What does this mean for consumers? A movie or TV episode that can be played across multiple devices, not just one specific hardware set or operating system.

Or maybe not. The purpose of UltraViolet is to offer consumers one digital copy that can be accessed on Android and iOS mobile devices, desktops, notebooks, Blu-ray players and other compatible devices. Introduced in October 2011, select Blu-ray movies like The Smurfs and Green Lantern contained a code that essentially "unlocked" the digital version via UltraViolet. Consumers simply needed to create an UltraViolet account, enter the code, and bam! There's your movie in a virtual locker.

Even more, watching an UltraViolet movie on a mobile device means linking a free Flixter account to the UltraViolet account. While this process essentially calls for creating two accounts to watch a single movie, the payoff is watching it on all said platforms worry-free. This can be done by streaming via Wi-Fi, or downloading and watching the video offline. Both UltraViolet and Flixter report that downloading is allowed.

Paramount has apparently decided to change the rules, adding confusion to the new "digital locker" standard. According to the studio's FAQ, UltraViolet movies can be viewed on iOS devices in SD only, and only through the Safari browser by visiting -- there's no mention of the Flixter app or any other DRM-laced app. Paramount also states that movies can be watched on multiple devices, just not on Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone, or set-top boxes and gaming consoles.

The big shocker is that iOS customers cannot download the video file for offline viewing. If they want offline action, it will have to be via a desktop or laptop using Paramount's software which serves as a video downloader and player. Viewing on an iOS device must be done by streaming the movie across a Wi-Fi connection to the device's browser (or maybe via the iOS video player itself, that part is unclear).

For the record, Flixter was purchased by Warner Bros. on May 4, 2011 which may be why Paramount is bypassing the Flixter service altogether. That said, Paramount may be working on its own app that will be supported by multiple platforms in the near future. Until then, consumers are left with the same DRM-based limitations suffered prior to UltraViolet's October 2011 debut, making it not quite so attractive after all.

To get your UltraViolet Paramount collection started, head here. Unfortunately, the only Trek you can purchase for the moment is the 2009 J.J. Abrams reboot costing $19.99 for the HD version and $12.99 for the SD version. For that price, you may be better off buying the Instant Video version from Amazon for $9.43...

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Top Comments
  • 17 Hide
    danwat1234 , January 25, 2012 2:52 AM
    Ya, or just use bittorrent
  • 17 Hide
    flipster , January 25, 2012 2:13 AM
    And the fine print continues to set massive limits.
  • 11 Hide
    klavis , January 25, 2012 3:34 AM
    Wow, that just killed Ultraviolet right there, it lost it's selling point completely. The point was to not have it fragment and it already has, in less than a year.
Other Comments
    Display all 25 comments.
  • 17 Hide
    flipster , January 25, 2012 2:13 AM
    And the fine print continues to set massive limits.
  • 0 Hide
    Delengowski , January 25, 2012 2:18 AM
    Sounds like the idiots are starting to learn from spotify..getting on the right track
  • 17 Hide
    danwat1234 , January 25, 2012 2:52 AM
    Ya, or just use bittorrent
  • 8 Hide
    joz , January 25, 2012 3:08 AM
    Ultraviolet was both a bad, and good movie. But mostly just bad.

    now, the original animated series, that was amazing.

  • 11 Hide
    klavis , January 25, 2012 3:34 AM
    Wow, that just killed Ultraviolet right there, it lost it's selling point completely. The point was to not have it fragment and it already has, in less than a year.
  • 7 Hide
    alidan , January 25, 2012 3:48 AM
    wow... selling ultraviolet for as much as the dvd/bluray versions.... way to screw us.

    right now on amazon

    The Smurfs / The Smurfs: Christmas Carol (Three-Disc Combo Blu-ray / DVD + UltraViolet Digital Copy) (2011)

    22$ from amazon, 15$ from supercdjoint

    and they want to sell digital alone, hd, for 20$

    smerfs isnt the best movie to point this out on but its one mentioned above.

    now, hollywood sees box office as the only thing that matters and everything else is a candy coating... why screw us this much? why screw netflix as much as they are? i just cant understand this as anything else but blind greed.
  • 2 Hide
    bebangs , January 25, 2012 4:01 AM
    MegaUpload was better... ^_^
  • 4 Hide
    seezur , January 25, 2012 4:13 AM
    I saw this coming a mile away. The UV platform seemed too easy, too convenient. In it's original form this is what consumers wanted, the ability to watch our content on any device no matter where we happen to be. Now that the studios are getting their hands on it they are putting restrictions on it and pricing it far too high to compete with current products.

    I predict 2 years and a handful of lawsuits are going to be the end of this product. Oh well I guess I'll stick with Amazon and Netflix for a little while longer.
  • 9 Hide
    freggo , January 25, 2012 8:26 AM
    No wonder people pirate stuff. Reading the above article on how, what and where can/cannot/can maybe done ruins the experience.
    I don't want to bother with it. Keep your goddamn movie !
    You know that Aunt Lilly will never figure this out seeing that her VCR still blinks 12:00
    It sounded like a step in the right direction; than paranoia and greed set in coupled with idiotic pricing. I am getting so tired of anything having to do with Hollywood. F... em !

  • 0 Hide
    icemunk , January 25, 2012 8:56 AM
  • 1 Hide
    memadmax , January 25, 2012 9:27 AM
    Nah, I'll keep netflix...
  • 0 Hide
    drwho1 , January 25, 2012 11:14 AM
    I rather have the actual disk, and watch whenever I want on whatever player I want, no restrictions.

  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , January 25, 2012 12:08 PM
    My wife and I buy the Blu Ray disk versions of movies and will not buy a digital only copy. We do, however, like it when the Blu Ray comes with the digital copy and lately we have been liking the UltraViolet digital versions as they are less restrictive than typical digital copies. I hated UltraViolet when it first came out because the client was insanely buggy, but it's pretty clean now and works on all of my devices (PC/Laptop/Nook Tablet/Android cellphone). The only other digital movie service that compares to UltraViolet is the Disney Digital Copy which after you register your copy with their rewards program, you can watch the digital version through any web browser and if the movie didn't come with a digital copy, it's typically $3 to add it.
  • 0 Hide
    PrimalGecko , January 25, 2012 12:24 PM
    I posted the previous Anonymous comment...

    I'm not happy that Paramount is not using the Flixster app for UltraViolet for their movies and will not be purchasing any digital only versions. It's bad enough I have to go through Flixster, WB Digital Editions, Disney Digital or Amazon Digital to watch my digital movies that aren't the older yet heavily DRM'd downloaded copies. I don't need another application to keep track of which movies are on which application...
  • 5 Hide
    DaddyW123 , January 25, 2012 12:47 PM
    haha, they think they are keeping piracy down by implementing all of these restrictions - but in reality, they are just making the product less attractive to purchase/use and making the alternative (pirating it) the more appealing approach. I'm all for paying for my media rather than stealing it (I pay for all my music on amazon and I buy a lot of blueray movies), but when you make it difficult for me to OWN what I pay for, then you deserve to get ripped of by pirates.

    "The more you tighten your grip, the more systems will slip through your fingers". Why has NOBODY learned from starwars?
  • 2 Hide
    velocityg4 , January 25, 2012 12:52 PM
    Great lower video and audio quality than Blu Ray with a higher price and vastly more difficult to use. Sounds like a winning combo to me.

    Online movie sales will never defeat DVD or Blu Ray unless it is as easy or easier then hitting the input button, popping a disc in a player and pressing the play button and be watching it on your TV. For the large majority of consumers even that concept is difficult to grasp.
  • 1 Hide
    cknobman , January 25, 2012 12:53 PM
    Nah Ill just stick to my RedBox and burn methodology. If the movie is really good and I think its worth it then I will actually buy a copy when its less than $15 and then proceed to burn that. This way I decide what devices my movie can play on and at what quality.

    Paramount your re-tarted if you think this scheme is going to be successful outside of a few iTards entrenched into Apples ecosystem.
  • 3 Hide
    __-_-_-__ , January 25, 2012 1:30 PM
    I can't see UV. lol
  • 1 Hide
    simplec1 , January 25, 2012 3:59 PM
    I have a hard time accepting ultra violet when when most blu-rays that I purchases are dvd combo packs anyway. If I want it on my iphone I'll use Badaboom or Handbrake and encode it in 10 minutes but when I want a hi-def copy for playback on my htpc then I rip the BD and and use mkv format with settings that works for me. But where ultra violet goes wrong is how they continually try to force it upon the user with severe limitations and then advertise that you can play and watch your movie anywhere. I don't know about you but with the majority of mobile carriers imposing data caps and higher prices, UltraViolet is just another UltraFail to me
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , January 25, 2012 5:14 PM
    Tried it when it shipped free with a Harry Potter 7 Blu-ray. The reason I bought the Blu-ray with digital edition was to allow our kids to watch it on their iPads during our trip overseas. Guess what? You can't. I called and complained, and they provided me with an iTunes copy.

    Bottom line: do they really think people are so stupid to purchase movies on UltraViolet ? They'll try it once, and they will complain like I did.

    These studios don't get it. You cannot force us to use your product the way you want it to be used (I can only watch it on my iPhone when I am connected via wi-fi)! You want to, but we will not be fooled!
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