Digital Movie Services.
No, I’m not saying it with a wink and a sly nudge of an elbow. I’m not talking about streaming TV shows and movies off of some janky website with more viruses than the CDC database. I’m also not talking about websites and sources that allow a person to pirate said TV shows and movies with more spam than the luncheon meat ailse at Walmart.
I’m talking about Digital Copy. You know, that thing that comes with most Blu-Ray releases that allows you to legally have a copy of the movie on either your portable devices (tablets, phones) or available to stream from an online library linked to an account you create to pretty much every device you can probably think of.
At one time, there were quite a few of these services available. When studios got tired of people blatantly ripping DVDs and sharing the file online via torrent applications (which allow thousands of people to illegally share the same file so downloading is quicker and more readily available to pirates) they came up with a grand idea:
Why not just GIVE them a digital copy when they buy the movie?
Sure, you paid a bit more for the DVD that came with the digital copy, but you didn’t have to worry about sketchy websites and malware ridden streaming sites. You could do it legally, easily, and in high definition!
The problem though, is that the digital locker/distribution hosts (Vudu, MoviesGo, iTunes Movies, Google Play Movies, DisneyGo, Kalediscope, Flixster Video, UltraViolet, etc) weren’t making a whole lot of money off of these types of things most likely because the accounts are free to create, and they are essentially just storing your movies for you. Sure, they get a percentage for the hosting from either the movie studios or production companies, but is it enough? The answer is no.
Over the past few years we’ve seen a number of these providers shut down their operations as the business was just not viable enough to stick around. There are plenty that have shuttered their doors, but today I’m only going to focus on a couple of the big ones with even bigger questions.
One of the two big names in digital locker services (at least in Canada), UltraViolet launched on October 11th, 2011 with the first UV-capable title, Horrible Bosses. A number of studios jumped onboard with the services from the outset such as Warner Bros, Sony Pictures, Fox, Universal, Paramount, and Lionsgate. Later the next year in April, Dreamworks Animation joined the fray.
With the large amount of digital locker services available over the years, a number of studios seemingly either jumped ship to other providers (likely giving a smaller cut to the new host, hence saving money) or launched their own platforms to stream the movies that were created through their respective studios. Over time, this seems to have taken a toll on UltraViolet.
Ceasing operations on July 31st of 2019, they have allowed continued linking to other providers to give account holders the ability to stream their content after UV is gone. Here in Canada, that was Flixster Video.
The second of the two big names is Flixster Video. Much like UV, it operates in the same way. You buy a Blu-Ray/DVD that has a digital copy redemption code in the case, and you can redeem it online through the respective studio(s) and it gets tossed into your Flixster Video library (if the studio is supporting UV).
Again, much like UV, the business model was apparently not sustainable as Flixster had shut down but was still running the Flixster Video side of things… which was not a good sign of things to come. As per an email I received this morning, this is what Flixster Video had to say:
Following the announcement by UltraViolet that it will be discontinuing its service on July 31, 2019, we are writing to provide you notice that Flixster Video is planning to shut down its website, applications and operations on October 31, 2019.
It also goes on to mention that migration of movie libraries would be going to Google Play Movies available sometime in July of 2019 and that some movies (if they aren’t available through Google Play Movies normally) would not migrate, effectively costing account holders quite a bit of money depending on how big your library was (my Flixster Video library is over 100 movies). You pay a premium for a movie to get the digital copy and now you may not have that anymore?
However, that’s how the cookie crumbles and after they shut down the biggest player in digital locker services is going to be Apple’s iTunes which will be divided up soon into their own apps (Music, TV/Movies/Shows, Podcasts, Apps, etc). We’ll see how this works out.
Do you have a movie library about to vanish forever into the digital void? Sound off an let me know what you think of these services shutting down.