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Bewkes: UltraViolet Adds 1 Million New Accounts in Four Weeks

2 May, 2012 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Jeff Bewkes

Digital locker user-base now tops 2 million accounts since its launch last October

Consumers registering movies to the cloud-based UltraViolet digital locker topped 2 million accounts, including 1 million new accounts generated in the past four weeks, said Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes.

Warner Bros. was the first studio to launch UltraViolet releases last fall with Green Lantern and Horrible Bosses.

Speaking May 2 in an analysts’ call discussing Time Warner’s fiscal results, Bewkes said he was “basically happy” with the launch of UltraViolet and sees it as a big accomplishment for the industry. The CEO said it took five months to acquire the first 1 million UltraViolet accounts and just four weeks to generate the next 1 million accounts.

“We think it’s going to be more compelling as more companies and consumers participate,” Bewkes said.

Indeed, Walt Disney Studios and Lionsgate, which owns the “Hunger Games” and “Twilight” franchises, instead are participating with Apple's iCloud digital storage platform.

The executive said UltraViolet can eliminate the need to rent when dealing with certain viewer demographics and movie genres. He said animated titles for kids, comedies for teens/young adults and select dramas are examples of content that gets watched repeatedly.

“So you don’t want to rent them; you want to own them,” Bewkes said.

He said rollout of Walmart’s disc-to-digital platform (now featuring 5,000 titles) and Amazon selling UltraViolet movies would help cement the concept with average consumers — the latter key to the platform’s long-term success, according to the executive.

He said retail prices for UltraViolet titles — which have been criticized as too high in an age of the lower-cost disc rentals and subscription video-on-demand — would be studied going forward as the studio works with retailers.

Bewkes said the first step would be to continue to make electronic sell-through product easy to use, easy to get, easy to understand, not intimidating for people to buy.

“We don’t set the [retail] prices,” he said, adding that if pricing does indeed motivate sellthrough, sales volume can make up for “whatever price adjustments” need to occur.


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