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Panel: UltraViolet Needs to Overcome Rent vs. Buy Mentality

1 May, 2013 By: Chris Tribbey

DTS' Ajay Dugar, Digital Media Directions' Brad Hunt, Dolby's Mark Turner, Lionsgate's Thomas Hughes and Sony's Richard Berger.

MARINA DEL REY, Calif. — During a panel discussing the state of UltraViolet at the Digital Hollywood conference April 30, a member of the audience relayed how his wife had no understanding of what UltraViolet was, and was frustrated earlier this month when she first tried to use it.

“We’ve got to educate the consumers on the benefits,” agreed Brad Hunt, president of consulting firm Digital Media Directions.

That’s the plan, according to Thomas Hughes, SVP of digital distribution for Lionsgate: During the third and fourth quarters of 2013, look for a massive marketing campaign by the studios to help push the format past the 12 million-plus user accounts it has today.

To this point, UltraViolet advertising has mostly been title by title from individual studios, or spots from retailers such as Walmart, advertising its disc-to-digital UltraViolet service. The big marketing push — which will be led by DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group — will deal with the format overall, relaying its benefits, explaining its importance, and covering which retailers and studios offer it.

Richard Berger, SVP of global digital strategy and operations for Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, said the campaign will likely focus on the message of “future-proofing” movie collections, and selling UltraViolet as “a bridge for consumers to go from physical to digital.”

“You can’t take a disc, put it in your iPad and play it,” is one example of the messaging, he said.

Mark Turner, head of content relations for Dolby Laboratories, said consumers at large are still uncertain about what exactly UltraViolet offers, which is the cloud-based right to that content. And “once they understand that, the value proposition starts growing,” he said.

Convincing people to buy their content with UltraViolet instead of renting is also tops among the messages UltraViolet proponents are attempting to relay to consumers. Turner suggested retailers may start looking at try-before-you-buy rentals, pushing consumers to buy something with UltraViolet after they’ve rented it.

“The notion of associating collecting and buying [with UltraViolet] hasn’t come around yet,” said Ajay Dugar, director of digital media business development for DTS. “That’s next.”

With an improved interface via Flixster.com, Vudu.com, UVVU.com and others; with at-home disc-to-digital up and running among several retailers; and with New Zealand, Australia, France and Germany all next in line to get UltraViolet, panelists said they felt the format is on the cusp of taking off in a big way.

“It needs to be in every place where physical exists,” Turner said. “It’s just how quick we can get it there.”

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