Buying a DVD or Blu-ray should let you access that movie everywhere you go, or at least that's what Hollywood's Ultraviolet service promised. But if you've used Ultraviolet in the last handful of years, you probably gave up on the troubled platform pretty quickly.
Fortunately, a new streaming star has appeared.
Today, Hollywood movie studios united to announce a new service named Movies Anywhere that unites all of your digital movie purchases under one always-available network.
What's Movies Anywhere?
Movies Anywhere is a new cloud-based movie streaming service that unites the purchases you've made on streaming services such as iTunes, Amazon Video, Google Play, and Vudu, and allows you to add supported films purchased on Blu-ray and DVD. It looks very similar to Disney Movies Anywhere, from which it borrows the KeyChest digital rights management technology. It may even replace Ultraviolet, a similar service that never took off.
Why is it better than Ultraviolet?
Movies Anywhere seems to feature more cross-platform buy-in from important players such as Apple and offer a clean and easy to use interface that's available in many more places. Having used Ultraviolet, I can say that its clunky interface and confusing mix of support (not all films could be downloaded onto every platform) made for one of the more frustrating user experiences I've ever used, so crossing that low standard might not be the hardest task.
What devices will Movies Anywhere support?
While it only appears to be available via web browsers at the time of publishing, Movies Anywhere will be on iOS, Android, Android TV, Chromecast, Roku, Amazon Fire and Fire TV devices and the Apple TV.
Those iOS and Android apps will include a Save For Offline feature so you can stock up on movies before going on a flight.
How many studios and films does Movies Anywhere have?
Starting with Disney, Sony Pictures, Universal, Warner Bros. and 20th Century Fox, Movies Anywhere has created an alliance of studios that gives the service a launch library of more than 7,300 titles. While that might not seem like a lot, the Movies Anywhere team knows it's just begun. Movies Anywhere general manager Karin Gilford told The Verge that the service has been in talks to add Paramount Pictures and Lionsgate.
Also, new users who connect existing accounts from Amazon, iTunes, Google Play and Vudu will get free films added to their libraries. Signing into one account gives you access to digital copies of Ghostbusters (2016) and Ice Age, and a second signup adds Big Hero 6, Jason Bourne and The Lego Movie.
What do we think of Movies Anywhere?
Setting up my account was pretty simple and fast, allowing me to bring my copies of films — including Shaun of the Dead, Inception, Gone Girl and Harold and Kumar Go To White Caste — over from my iTunes account instantly. I did have one small hiccup, though: Vudu wouldn't connect. This is likely a launch-day bug to be ironed out, and isn't the biggest deal for me, as I hadn't used Vudu ever until earlier this week.
The web player interface of Movies Anywhere feels a lot like Netflix, in a good way. Content is divided into three sections: Explore for finding something new, Redeem to input codes from purchased Blu-rays and DVDs and My Movies for your own collection. Under My Movies, you see both the films you can access and stills of any you've paused so you can resume from that point.
The Explore section showed off a solid selection of new films, including Get Out, Baby Driver and Spider-Man: Homecoming. Instead of paying Movies Anywhere for one of these films, clicking Buy in the Explore section allows you to see which of its partners (Amazon, iTunes, Google Play and Vudu) sell said movie, and provides a link to buy there.