Vidity: Bridging In-Home and Mobile Playback of Ultra HD Content2 Aug, 2016
With the rapid emergence of 4K UHD TV, consumers are clamoring for more content. In fact, Ultra HD Blu-ray sales have taken off faster than the original HD discs did 10 years ago, Home Media Magazine market research shows. However, consumers have also become accustomed to the ubiquitous access to content that streaming and cloud services offer — a proposition that may prove much more difficult in a 4K UHD environment.
That’s because file sizes for 4K UHD content are significantly larger than HD files, putting a strain both on bandwidth and the storage capacity of a typical mobile device. In addition, there is still considerable complexity in getting ubiquitous access to content across devices, services and platforms — a process that typically requires multiple accounts and transactions.
So where does a consumer who wants Ultra HD Blu-ray quality, along with unfettered access to his or her content, look? Vidity. Home Media Magazine recently sat down with David Huerta, GM of the Secure Content Storage Association, to talk about the roll out of Vidity — and its unique value proposition for consumers.
Q. As simply as you can, please explain what Vidity is.
A. Vidity is an enabling technology that, simply put, delivers the highest-quality 4K UHD with HDR experience and frees consumers to enjoy, store and manage their owned content on any device, anywhere, at any time, with or without an internet connection and without the need to log into an account.
Drilling down on that a little bit, with Vidity, a single content purchase gives the consumer comprehensive ownership — not just a license, but ownership — of whatever title they’ve selected. With that purchase, they download 4K UHD with HDR and HD and/or SD files of the film, along with additional copyrights. The files can then be stored on any VIDITY-enabled device — such as hard drives, telephones, set-top boxes, and so on. They can also be moved or copied, either wirelessly or via SD card, to other Vidity enabled devices for local playback. And, because there’s no need for an Internet connection or account login to view the content, a consumer can watch their content not only on their Vidity-enabled devices, but also on those owned by friends or family. It’s like DVD or Blu-ray in that regard. You put a DVD in any DVD player and it plays. You put Vidity content on any Vidity device and it plays. Period.
The simplicity of Vidity solves several problems currently facing the industry and consumers. First, the delivery of high-quality 4K UHD with HDR in a streaming environment is not a simple proposition. Consumers have to consider available bandwidth and data caps in their own service plans, and according to Akami, the average bandwidth in the US is still only 15Mbps, which is taxing for true HD content, and that’s without even taking into account competing in-home resources for that bandwidth.
From a quality perspective, Ultra HD Blu-ray offers great quality, but is best suited for living rooms. That’s great in the home, but as we all know, more and more content is being consumed on mobile devices and secondary screens. In fact, in 2014, mobile finally surpassed in-home consumer electronics spending as more consumers look to mobile devices for information and content. This makes download a great option as it delivers the same quality regardless of where the content resides and without regard to bandwidth limitations. However, in the current ecosystem multiple 4K UHD file sizes are just too big to fit on the average mobile device. SD Cards and USB make it possible to enjoy content on the full range of devices as they bypass the inherent limitations of minimal device storage and limited bandwidth.
In short, Vidity gives consumers the quality, consistency, control and ease of use they associate with packaged media and the flexibility and ubiquitous access to content consumers have come to associate with streaming and digital.
Q. Does it work for all content regardless of resolution, or is its use focused on Ultra HD?
A. Ultimately, Vidity is about providing the highest-quality viewing experience, and right now that means enhancing the UHD experience for consumers by giving them access to high-quality 4K UHD with HDR not only in their living rooms, but also on their computers, smartphones, consoles or on whatever device they choose. It also enhances the ownership proposition by giving consumers full and flexible use of their film libraries. That said, we have built-in HD and SD playback, download, move and copy so consumers can decide which playback version best suits their needs based on screen capability and available storage space. As the ecosystem evolves, Vidity builds in “future-proof” capabilities by allowing for the existing digital file to be updated with future enhancements, whether it be new functionality, quality or security enhancements that take advantage of new device capabilities.
Q. Is there a demand for Vidity on mobile devices?
A. As I noted earlier, mobile finally surpassed in-home consumer spending and we think this will continue to increase as mobile devices continue to get more powerful. We also believe that consumers increasingly want a simple ‘buy once, play everywhere’ solution when purchasing content, especially for kids’ programming that gets repeated often. This is why “mobile friendly” HD and SD versions are included with each Vidity purchase. In addition, we are already seeing more and more computers offering 4K resolution, and many companies have already announced 4K support in smartphones and tablets for things like 4K video recording, etc. It is also important to remember that a premium-quality experience isn’t just about UHD resolution, it’s also about high dynamic range and color gamut, both of which significantly enhance the entertainment experience. I think consumers will gravitate to the highest quality they can get for each playback device they wish to view their content on, especially if it doesn’t tax their device storage. In fact, a recent Verizon survey indicates that 86% of respondents say it is very or extremely important to get a TV-like experience every time they watch, and on every screen they use.
Q. What role does Vidity play in the rollout — and, hopefully, mass adoption — of Ultra HD?
A. We see Vidity as central to a healthy and vibrant 4K UHD with HDR ecosystem. Consumers demand their content whenever and wherever they want it, and are increasingly looking for a “buy once, play anywhere” solution. Ultra HD Blu-ray answers the call in the living room, but that is not enough for consumers anymore, especially those at are looking to purchase content. And, while streaming has allowed consumers to untether their content from the living room, the current infrastructure simply does not support broad streaming of high-quality 4K UHD content, let alone HDR or any other quality enhancements that are coming. Vidity’s quality enables it to stand alone as a living room only technology, but goes well beyond that by serving as a bridge between in-home and mobile playback. We think this will be critical to helping drive the 4K UHD ecosystem and enticing consumers to increase their content purchases.
Q. Why is this important (being able to move content around)?
A. Consumers have grown to expect this functionality, and there’s no reason they can’t, or shouldn’t, have it a 4K UHD environment. Arguably, high-quality content playback outside walled garden environments is limited right now. Vidity also addresses this issue in a very elegant way. One of the great things about DVD and Blu-ray is that you can put any disc in any player and it will play. Think of Vidity in that same vein. You put Vidity content in any Vidity player — which can be built into a set-top box, smartphone, tablet, computer, game console, smartTV — and it plays.
Q. What about content — what’s out there?
A. Currently, there are nearly 40 titles available for download on MGo/FandangoNOW – roughly the same number of titles currently available on Ultra HD Blu-ray. We expect new content to be continually released in the Vidity format. We are in contact with studios and content distributors, as well as device manufacturers, to expand Vidity offerings.
Q. Are there any other solutions or services that offer 4K download/ownership of new premium films?
A. No. Vidity is currently the only solution that offers consumers the ability to download and own recently released premium movies.