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Fox to Offer Early Digital, UltraViolet Access on All New Releases

6 May, 2013 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Digital HD branding campaign, which includes UltraViolet, bows titles up to four weeks ahead of disc

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment is set to offer early digital access (with UltraViolet functionality via UV vendors) on all new release movies, beginning with A Good Day to Die Hard, which streets on June 4. The Digital HD edition of the movie will available May 14.

The early releases are part of a branding campaign for Digital HD, the digital sellthrough platform Fox launched last September with the early release of sci-fi thriller Prometheus, said Vincent Marcais, EVP of worldwide brand marketing with 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

Digital HD new releases will be available up to four weeks ahead of BD and DVD, depending on scheduling and related “opportunistic” reasons, Marcais said. The digital releases will also include bonus material depending on the platform.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment in 2011 was the first studio to offer early electronic sellthrough on select titles with Cameron Diaz dark comedy, Bad Teacher. It has subsequently released more than 20 titles early on digital.

A Good Day to Die Hard, which was released domestically in theaters Feb. 13, stars Bruce Willis reprising for the fourth time his role as NYPD detective John McClane. The film grossed more than $302 million at the global box office.

Since the Digital HD launch, Fox has released about five titles early on the platform for $14.99 SRP, in addition to myriad catalog titles priced less than $10. Digital platforms selling Fox movies include Walmart’s Vudu, iTunes, Google Play, Xbox Video, Amazon, Nook Media, Best Buy’s CinemaNow and Sony Entertainment Network. Not all platforms offer UltraViolet functionality.

Digital HD will also be included in all BD/DVD combo pack releases going forward — in effect replacing digital copy. That’s because Digital HD is a partner with UltraViolet, the industry-driven, cloud-based digital locker that provides users online access to purchased movies on connected devices.

“We've been using [Digital HD] branding basically as a replacement for electronic sellthrough,” Marcais said. “Now we’re applying that branding to everything.”

The aggressive approach on pricing and windowing is apparently paying off, which Marcais believes will be driven further by upcoming home entertainment releases such as The Heat, Turbo, The Wolverine and The Internship, among others.

Indeed, since bowing movies early on Digital HD, Fox has seen a 400% uptick in ownership of digital content compared with higher-priced electronic sellthrough (EST) titles offered on street date, Marcais said.

Industrywide, EST grew more than 51% in the first quarter (ended March 31) to $231 million from $152.6 million during the previous-year period, according to data compiled by DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group.

To be sure, the numbers remain dwarfed by packaged media sellthrough, which topped $2 billion in Q1 revenue, and transactional video-on-demand, which approached $615 million.

Marcais said Blu-ray still offers consumers the highest resolution (1080p), best audio, UltraViolet and complete bonus material, with Digital HD pegged as an alternative value proposition.

“We think early release is really vital to digital content ownership,” Marcais said. “It’s working really well. We see consumers reacting favorably.”


About the Author: Erik Gruenwedel

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