UltraViolet Cloud-Based Movie Locker to Close in July

The lights will go out on UltraViolet on July 31 when the cloud-based movie-rights service will be discontinued. The UltraViolet “digital locker” movie library has been a central location from which apps like Vudu and Fandango Now could authorize streaming of a user’s purchased movie titles, along with redeemed digital copies of DVDs and Blu-ray Discs. UltraViolet’s demise became inevitable when Movies Anywhere launched in 2017 with a greater number of movie studio and streaming partners. While Movies Anywhere has most of the same partners as UltraViolet, users will still want to take steps to be sure all of their movies will be available after July.

UltraViolet was conceived in 2006 by Mitch Singer of Sony Pictures. He came up with the idea that there needed to be a central location that contained a library of titles that a user “owned.” This central location would be a digital rights locker. This means that the movie files are never actually stored in the cloud locker. Instead, streaming services would access a code indicating that you have the right to stream that title.

Singer received support from most of the major Hollywood studios and some independent studios. An alliance was formed that was made up of film studios, retailers, consumer electronics manufacturers, cable television companies, and internet companies. This consortium was called the DECE (Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem). The DECE created UltraViolet as that central digital rights locker. Although the DECE included a vast number of companies, it was incomplete as they failed to bring Disney on board. Streaming partnerships included Vudu, Fandango Now (previously M-GO), and Flixster (later acquired by Fandango) but UltraViolet was unable to attract the most popular streaming apps — Google Play, iTunes, and Amazon Prime Video.

After UltraViolet launched in 2011, users could also add titles through Walmart’s Disc-to-Digital service, and later through Cinema Now. Disc-to-Digital made it possible to add older titles on DVD and Blu-ray Disc to a customer’s UltraViolet library.

For a while, UltraViolet served its purpose well. Many users created accounts when instructed where to redeem digital copies of purchased DVDs and Blu-rays. Currently, UltraViolet has over 30 million users with more than a total of 300 million movies and TV shows stored in digital locker libraries.

Over the past decade, however, Disney never joined UltraViolet, choosing instead to launch its own service. Disney DVDs and Blu-ray Discs included digital movie codes but they could only be redeemed on the Disney Movies Anywhere site. Somewhere along the way, Disney convinced 20th Century Fox, Universal Pictures, Sony Pictures, Warner Brothers, and independent studio Lionsgate to support its service. At the same time, Disney partnered with iTunes, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, Xfinity, Microsoft Movies and TV, as well as Vudu and Fandango Now.

In late 2017, Disney relaunched its service as simply “Movies Anywhere” and offered users the ability to stream to more apps and services with a broader content selection than UltraViolet. Ultraviolet has become a redundant service with less to offer. Or, as UltraViolet explains on its website: “In the years since UltraViolet’s launch, we’ve seen the emergence of services that provide expanded options for content collection and management independent of UltraViolet. This and other market factors have led to the decision to discontinue UltraViolet.”

What to do if you have an UltraViolet movie library
The first thing to know is that you have time to make any required changes. It’s easy, so you may want to take a few minutes now to ensure you don’t lose any of the movies or TV shows you own and currently access via your UltraViolet library.

Go to myuv.com. Log in to your UltraViolet account. Choose the Retailer Services tab. Be sure you have at least one or more streaming services linked. After the UltraViolet service closes in July, you will still be able to stream your library on Fandango Now, Kaleidescape, Paramount Pictures, Verizon FiOS, and Vudu.

Vudu is the best service to link with your UltraViolet account as it can stream content from every major studio and it works with both UltraViolet and Movies Anywhere. After you link UltraViolet to Vudu, create a Movies Anywhere account and link it to the same Vudu account.

While this will add many of the titles from UltraViolet to your Movies Anywhere account, it is incomplete. When I compared my UltraViolet Library with my Movies Anywhere library, I found a number of titles missing. Fully one-third of my UltraViolet movie titles that showed up in my library on Vudu, were not listed as available from Movies Anywhere. Missing titles included Chicago, Divergent, Draft Day, Ex Machina, Expendables 2, Florence Foster Jennings, Mission: Impossible, Now You See Me 2 , and many more.

When UltraViolet tells you to not delete or unlink your account — and to be sure the account is linked to Vudu and Fandango Now — it’s best to follow those instructions. If you share your UltraViolet library, be sure each user has linked their individual streaming account to the shared library. While you will still be able to add new purchases and code redemptions after UltraViolet shuts down, consider using another method as other users of your library will not have access to titles added after July 31.

Billy's picture

When will people ever learn, the only person you can trust is yourself. I rip all the movies I buy. I have the physical disc as back up and even back up hard drives of all the rips. I use Kodi which is legal and free. Have a very nice little system throughout the house, and if for some idiotic reason I would need to stream it away from home, I could easily set that up too. Unless the house burns down, I think I am covered.

jhwalker's picture

I suppose if I had about 40TB on hand (and could back it up offsite, as well), this would work for me, as well :/ In the meantime, happy for iTunes, Vudu, and Movies Anywhere. RIP UltraViolet.

Billy's picture

My friend, I have 80TB and equal TB in back up. Memory is cheap, much cheaper then a broken heart when some fat cat decides to cash in and become even fatter by intruding on your cloud. Besides, every one needs a hobby, whats yours? I have more fun ripping and organizing my DVDs and Blu rays then almost anything else. Ask my wife, she thinks I am a little nuts, but she is always amazed when I can pull something up in the bedroom on demand when she wants to snuggle to a good movie there. Plus, I do not need an internet connection to watch my stuff, often a problem here in the boonies, let me tell ya.