UltraViolet, Hollywood's great multi-platform hope, inched a little farther out of the drawing room on Wednesday.
The cloud-based, video-anywhere system has completed its back-end work and can now be accessed by studios, retailers and manufacturers to ready it for its eventual consumer launch.
With any luck, companies such as Microsoft and studios such as Sony and Warner Brothers will begin making UltraViolet compatible devices, DVDs and Blu-rays for release this fall.
“Today marks the beginning of when companies can take UltraViolet to the consumer market,” Mark Teitell, UltraViolet’s General Manager, told TheWrap.
Getting there has involved all of the major studios except Disney, along with retailers such as Best Buy and tech companies like Motorola and IBM — though not Apple.
Called the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem, the group has agreed upon a universal file format and developed an open digital ecosystem that will allow users to stream or store the movies they buy from participating retailers across multiple devices.
Starting Wednesday, manufacturers will be able to license technological framework for a fee and can begin linking their products up to UltraViolet’s digital rights locker.
In turn, Teitell told TheWrap that licensees can begin using the UltraViolet logo for the movies and devices they sell and start advertising their participation in the cloud-based system.
By allowing users to stream titles across multiple platforms and devices, studios are hoping that they can prop up the sagging home entertainment market. Sales of Blu-rays have grown, but the DVD sector fell 44 percent and wholesale revenues plunged 10.8 percent to $11.86 billion in 2010 as more movie watchers shifted to video-on-demand and subscription services.
UltraViolet is seen as a possible panacea for these ills. Studios and retailers are banking that by making movies more accessible and portable they can entice consumers to begin buying discs and digital copies again rather than stream or rent them through Netflix or Redbox.
“If this is successful, which we think it will be, it will really change the landscape,” Teitell told TheWrap. “But like anything else meaningful, it will take time.”
By putting the ball in manufacturers' courts on Wednesday, Hollywood is hoping that UltraViolet stepped out of the clouds and moved closer to making its digital dreams a reality.