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Amazon Selling UltraViolet Films for Warner Bros

The UltraViolet format launched quietly late last year without much of a fuss, presenting as a bonus "digital copy" when consumers purchased certain Blu-ray movies like The Smurfs, Green Lantern, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2. This digital copy is only playable through Flixter either online or via the Android or iOS apps but it's being touted as 'The Next Big Thing,' the next step in media consumption as consumers move away from physical media. Unlike videos purchased on iTunes or Amazon, these are not locked to a specific OS or hardware platform: the movies can be played back on any device that supports the Flixter app -- the movies can even be played within Facebook (there's an app for that). That's the awesome aspect of UltraViolet.

The kicker here, though, is that Hollywood is currently forcing consumers to purchase the physical copy before they have access to the UltraViolet version. Many consumers don't want to purchase DVDs or Blu-ray movies anymore -- they want digital versions they can watch on their laptop, their tablet, their smartphones and their portable media player (like the iPod Touch) without having to jump through hoops or beg Hollywood for extra permissions. Without purchasing the physical disc, the UltraViolet version is inaccessible, and presently consumers can't even unlock digital versions of movies they already own. To that end, UltraViolet is seemingly at a standstill despite Hollywood's push.

However, there may be some good news after all. Currently, Warner Bros-owned Flixter is pushing the UltraViolet format by offering a free movie on the house -- all users need to do is create an actual UltraViolet account (which is free) on both the Flixter and UltraViolet websites. What's more, mega online retailer Amazon has also reportedly signed on to actually sell UltraViolet movies without the requirement of physical copies. The announcement was made on Tuesday by Amazon VP Bill Carr while speaking at a panel discussion.

As it stands now, Amazon has reportedly struck a deal with Warner Bros. to sell UltraViolet movies and TV episodes, or rather, the codes to unlock the digital content, directly to consumers. However, though Amazon has confirmed it has signed a deal with one Hollywood studio, the Warner Bros. aspect of this story is just an assumption made by multiple film-industry sources. For what it's worth, Warner Bros. is one of the biggest studios and one of UV's biggest supporters among the 70 Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE) member companies. DECE is the consortium that actually founded UltraViolet. What's more, Warner Bros. owns Flixter. So, to assume that Amazon's new deal was signed with Warner Bros. is not exactly a wild stab in the dark. Just know that it is unconfirmed by either party as of writing; Warner representatives declined to comment and Amazon did not respond to an interview request, CNET reports.

In addition to Amazon's hopeful solution, Samsung said on Wednesday that certain 2012 Blu-ray players will feature Disc-To-Digital which will essentially unlock the UltraViolet version of every DVD and Blu-ray movie the user registers with the device. This was the direction the UltraViolet consortium had in mind in the first place: allowing consumers to register their current and future DVDs and Blu-ray discs to unlock a digital version that is theirs to keep forever and ever.

There's no question that the highly-anticipated UltraViolet format saw a slow, underwhelming start last year, but 2012 looks to be the year the new format will take off thanks to the likes of Amazon and Samsung. Perhaps, if Amazon proves to be successful, additional Hollywood studios will jump on-board and sell digital copies directly to consumers, bypassing the dying physical format once and for all.

  • Shin-san
    This might actually get me to buy Blu-ray discs even though I don't have a player.
  • wildkitten
    I don't like Ultraviolet anyway. I preferred the old method of a digital copy you would get when you would by a BluRay+DVD+Digital Copy combo pack of actually downloading either a Windows Media file or an iTunes file and having it in my possession so I could play it how and when I wanted.

    I'm getting sick of this cloud.
  • spasmolytic46
    I'm so sick and tired of companies acting like its a privilege to access content I already own. I'll just keep ripping and encoding things myself. I'll also keep supporting the efforts of others to do the same. Thank you Linux and free software communities.
  • thefiend1
    Hey Kevin, dont be a fool. Maybe you dont care about the highest picture quality or sound available (which you wont get, and will never get from anything streaming) Doesnt mean everyone feels the same way. Physical format wont die. Just like PCs wont die.
  • alidan
    so how do i get the free movie?
  • pjmelect
    I don't see the problem with ripping blue ray movies on to your portable device, the copy protection has long been defeated.
  • qhoa1385
    so now I need high speed internet + tons of bandwidth just to watch a movie? and also Seller/Producer will jack up the price because they'll claim "WATCH ANYWHERE!"
  • Travis Beane
    thefiend1Hey Kevin, dont be a fool. Maybe you don't care about the highest picture quality or sound available (which you wont get, and will never get from anything streaming) Doesnt mean everyone feels the same way. Physical format wont die. Just like PCs wont die.Well, I have a 50 megabit connection, and I can stream over 20GB a hour. I cold triple my speed through my ISP if I cared to pay enough. I'd go for full Bluray streaming if offered.
  • Dyseman
    Sorry, I refuse to buy anything with Ultraviolet. I get digital copies so when I fly, or long car trips with kids in back watching on laptop. Can't do that with Cloud.

    So, I'm with now buying the cheap BD only version and ripping.

    Used to pay more, gladly, for the BD/DVD/Digital Copy... I guess I should thank Ultraviolet for saving me money and not supporting them. I have 2 Sony 400 BD Changers and have always bought my BD's.

    Now with things like WD-live, I'm now enjoying ripping them to MKV's,
  • fyasko
    that is why i still have netflix, i rent, rip and burn... i also don't torrent or share them. i now have an extensive collection of movies i can "rent" any time i want from netflix.