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Entertainment industry: A cloud up in the air. Will Ultraviolet actually succeed? What is your dream scenario for watching movies?

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Posted August 26 2011 - 09:51 AM

Last month Financial Times posted an interesting article regarding the state of Hollywood putting out new theatrical releases.  Unfortunately, I just stumbled upon it but thought that it was very relevant to the streaming video and digital downloads section of Home Theater Forum.

The reference to Universal Studio's decision to not move forward on the opportunity to bring Stephen King's "The Dark Tower" series of books into a trilogy of films was very interesting for me given the state of the industry.

According to the article, Universal nixed the idea because the "The economics just didn't work".

The article goes on to state:  "Times have changed. DVDs used to generate more than $20bn a year but since 2006 sales have fallen by more than $6bn, while attempts to reverse the decline with a new format – higher-quality Blu-ray discs – have largely failed. Hollywood is now betting that the consumers who stopped buying physical discs can be persuaded to buy films digitally."

The graph below highlights the sea change in revenue for the studios.


Another interesting reference in the article is around the number of films the industry has produced.  MPAA produced 204 films in 2006 and only 141 films in 2010.  That's 31% decline in new theatrical releases.

When I was doing HD DVD, having a new optical format to simply replace the already declining DVD purchases was a primary concern for the studios that I worked with (Universal, Warner Home Video and Paramount).  We all hoped that HD DVD (or from an all-up perspective any next generation optical format) would keep the revenue flowing in for the studios.  Of course, my motivation was having HD content of the movies and I was more than happy to replace my existing SD optical disc collection for a representation of what the actual movie looked and sounded like.

Ultraviolet (DECE) is still getting poised to launch.  I have been privileged to see a series of prototypes of how the rights lockers could look and the cloud services that are running to support the effort.  However, the very fact that members on Home Theater Forum have a very low awareness of Ultraviolet goes towards the amount of marketing that Ultraviolet will need to do to raise awareness for consumers on the value proposition and why they would want to move from renting from Red Box (I used to say Netflix, but their value proposition dropped dramatically for me with their recent price and services change).

While I am still "embargoed" from talking about much of the Ultraviolet stuff, I still am cautiously optimistic about the value proposition that it offers.  It is what I always wanted in the basically failed attempt of AACS's managed copy scenario.  For me, at the end of the day, what I really want is a legal and cost effective way to do what Kaleidescape provides for its customers today.  That is a way to have all my HD content digitally available to me so that I can watch any of it the same way that I interact with choosing what music I want to listen to on a plethora of devices today.  While I don't mind storing my blu-ray and HD DVD disc on the wall, I hate having to go to constantly readjust my shelving units for the growing collection, keep the titles alphabetized and then keep DVD Profiler all up to date so that I can then have the privilege of searching my collection to figure out what my wife and I can agree on to watch on the rare movie night.. (note, two kids has killed my movie nights).

My dream would be to have my iPad access my 100TB SAN disc array and provide me an interface for choosing what HD movies I wanted to watch no different than picking music from  my (insert favorite music player) and then just have it stream that movie over my 1gb ethernet connection to my pre/pro and start watching the HD movie with the exact same fidelity as if I had put the blu-ray / HD DVD disc in its respective player.  Also, if I was on vacation, I would want to be able to stream that content from my house to my notebook computer so I can watch it in bed or to my mobile device so my kids could watch it.

Granted, I can spend hours ripping all my HD discs...  what a PIA.

IMO, the only hope for that dream listed above is Ultraviolet.  I'm hoping that it will actually take off.  Collectively, we better hope it takes off or the amount of theatrical releases will most likely continue to decline, thus even less rentals to choose from!  :)

While I was doing HD DVD, many told me that I was on the fringes for my enthusiasm for watching movies, particularly in HD with lossless audio and being a nut about those movies being a match to what was on the film.  I tend to believe that there are kindred soles on this forum.

Are there?  Is the "dream scenario of consuming HD content" that I listed above something that resonates with any HTF members?

What is your dream scenario?

#2 of 2 OFFLINE   Sam Posten

Sam Posten

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Posted August 26 2011 - 05:21 PM

I wouldn't say there's a terribly low awareness given how little the studios have pushed it so far. I think the average HTFer knows moe about it and has a healthy skepticism about how badly it's going to work at launch. Honestly it has one chance. If it's not perfect for both enthusiasts AND j6p at launch one grouper the other will doom it. I know you are enthusiastic Kevin, but as my PMs keep beating into my head "hope is not a strategy". We've seen too many half baked, consumer unfriendly things floated by recently, so I remain dubious but will be happy to be proven wrong!

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