By Keith Barnett, M&E Industry Marketing Manager

UltraViolet is a word more people should get to know and I’m not talking about Ultraviolet rays that causes a mean sunburn on the beaches of Southern California.  This UltraViolet is a good thing coming out of Southern California for us consumers of digital content in allowing a more flexible way to access, consume and share content. 

As the stats show, the traditional methods studios have used to distribute their content is declining rapidly, such as an 11 percent drop in revenue from DVDs to $14 billion in 2010, and there is a real need for the industry to transition quickly to digital distribution.  Six major studios in Hollywood got together and have been working closely behind the scenes with around 60 technology companies and retailers such as Netflix, HP, Samsung, Best Buy and Microsoft to form a consortium called the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE) with the goal to help accelerate digital sales, reduce piracy and allow consumers a simple and straightforward way to watch and share the content we want on the multitude of devices we currently own today. 

The UltraViolet technology  was unveiled last week at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Vegas and is scheduled to be launched in the summer. It will allow people to download videos on multiple devices and share them with up to six relatives or friends.  For me, as an avid movie watcher but one that owns just 1 physical DVD (yes, Wall Street is classic in my book) but would rather watch a TV show or film on demand, this technology is something I’m excited to see launched. I’m more open to download content knowing that rights won’t be an issue and I can use it  on all my devices and I can give to my family without any issue.

I first heard about UltraViolet not too long ago when I was talking to FilmFlex in the UK.  FilmFlex which is part of DECE, is the largest VOD movie service in Europe jointly owned by Sony & Disney.  It was launched in 2005 and is now available in all 3.5m Virgin cable homes.  They offer 500 movies at any one time (200 new releases compared to less than 50 on iTunes) generating between 1.0 – 1.2 million buys per month.  FilmFlex raved about the advantages of UltraViolet as it will allow them to offer a more complete download service while giving its customers the assurance that their digital content bought through FilmFlex will play on multiple devices and can be shared easily.  FilmFlex, which uses Microsoft online video technology Silverlight, PlayReady for content protection and IIS Smooth Streaming, has always been at the forefront of innovation and I look forward to see what types of creativity spawns from companies like them with UltraViolet and the DECE. 

To learn more about FilmFlex and how they are working with Microsoft and DECE watch this short video