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Disney Expands 'Movies Anywhere' Access

8 Sep, 2015 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Disney's digital sellthrough platform still separate from UltraViolet

The Walt Disney Co. is widening consumer access to its Disney Movies Anywhere (DMA) digital platform. Beginning Sept. 8, consumers can buy and store in the cloud Disney digital movies via Amazon Instant Video and Microsoft Movies.

The launch, which coincides with the early digital release of Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, the year’s No. 2 movie in domestic box office gross, means consumers can now watch their digital Disney movie collections directly through the Amazon Video app for TVs, connected devices and mobile devices (including Fire tablets, Fire TV and Fire TV Stick), or online at Amazon.com, as well as through the Microsoft Movies and TV service on Windows and Microsoft Xbox devices or at microsoft.com/en-us/store/movies-and-tv.

A week later, on Sept. 15, the free DMA app becomes available for Roku and Android TV — just in time for Disney’s digital release of the live-action Cinderella.

Disney Movies Anywhere launched in February 2014 with Apple iTunes and iOS access. Google Play came aboard in November 2014, bringing DMA access to Android devices, and so did Walmart’s VUDU.

With the addition of these new partners, DMA is now available on over 90% of Disney’s digital retail market, the studio maintains.

“As consumers seek to build their digital libraries and protect their purchases for the long term, Disney Movies Anywhere makes it easier than ever to buy once and watch anywhere,” Janice Marinelli, president of Disney/ABC home entertainment & television distribution, said in a statement.

For a limited time, DMA is offering a free digital copy of Disney-Pixar's Monsters Inc. to new and existing members who connect an iTunes, Amazon Video, Vudu, Microsoft Movies & TV or Google Play account for the first time.

Disney Movies Anywhere allows consumers to buy Disney, Pixar, Marvel and “Star Wars” movies once and watch them anywhere, on a wide range of devices. The DMA library currently consists of more than 450 eligible movies.

Despite the expansion of Disney Movies Anywhere, linking with UltraViolet, the industry-backed platform with more than 21 million registered accounts that allows consumers to buy and store movies playable on compatible devices, still appears to be wishful thinking.

Earlier this year, Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara said the fact Disney movies are digitally separate from the rest of the industry is problematic to consumers and the growth of electronic sellthrough.

The CEO said that while digital sales of movies increased 50% in 2013, growth slowed to 30% in 2014. Year-to-date, digital sales remain up about 30% — a growth trajectory Tsujihara said is not fast enough to offset declining disc sales.

“It would be my goal to bridge [UltraViolet] with what Disney is doing, so the consumer doesn’t have to guess is that a Disney movie, or is that a Fox, Sony, Paramount, Universal or Warner Bros. movie?” Tsujihara in March told an investor group in San Francisco.

The executive said Disney and other studios could maintain separate sellthrough platforms while combining cloud-based functionality on the backend. He said combining user data between UltraViolet and Disney would help the industry grow digital content sales.

The amalgamation of platforms underscores Warner’s strategy of upping focus on digital distribution of content in home entertainment as a means of growing margins. Tsujihara contends digital sales don’t have to surpass physical. Even at a 50/50 split, digital’s higher margins would more than offset physical while impacting the bottom line.

“To be more profitable, we don’t [necessarily] need consumer spending [on discs] to grow,” he said.

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