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Warner Bros set to launch Ultraviolet video streaming, downloads with The Hobbit

Campbell Simpson | April 10, 2013
May 1 release of Warner Bros.' The Hobbit on Blu-ray and DVD will be Australian debut of Ultraviolet movie streaming

There is no single UltraViolet app or streaming website, though. Instead, the service can be accessed through any of a wide number of portals set up by distributors.

The portal that Warner Bros. demonstrated today was Flixster, which is a movie-discovery service which incorporates movie review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.

Through these portals, UltraViolet videos can be accessed through a PC or Mac's Web browser, and the service will also be available at launch through iOS and Android apps.

The UltraViolet service will definitely be available through Flixster come May 1st -- the company, its website and accompanying apps are owned by Warner Bros., so the distributor could confirm that today. It is likely that other members of the UltraViolet consortium, like Sony or Paramount or Fox, will launch their own branded portals for redeeming codes, and navigating through collections, but any user's entire UltraViolet collection should be accessible through any company's particular portal.

What does this mean for movie buyers, though?

The slow but inevitable release of movies with bundled, bonus UltraViolet codes by Australian movie and TV distributors is a good thing -- a representative of Warner Bros. said that the service would come at no extra cost to consumers, although this may be re-assessed at a later date -- depending on consumer uptake, and the cost of maintaining the network.

If you're going to be buying The Hobbit on May 1st or afterwards, every copy -- whether it's DVD or Blu-ray -- will include an UltraViolet coupon inside the disc case's front cover. You don't pay anything extra to add the movie to your UltraViolet collection, and you can stream it from any PC or Mac or Android or iOS smartphone or tablet.

UltraViolet-ready apps, like a Flixster app, for Smart TVs and other Smart devices from companies like Samsung and LG, will likely be released in coming months -- they may even be part of the companies' upcoming yearly product announcements in April and May.

There is some hard-and-fast data around UltraViolet to go with the service's May 1 local launch. You'll be able to maintain a maximum of six user accounts per household, with a maximum of 12 streaming/downloading devices tied to any one account. Each account will be able to view up to three simultaneous streams or downloads -- so you could conceivably be watching one movie while you're downloading two others for later use.

A unique file container and baked-in DRM makes it nearly impossible to format-shift UltraViolet videos; you're effectively locked in to only the devices that have official UltraViolet-capable apps like Flixster on PC, Mac, iOS and Android.

 

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