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U.K. Gets First UltraViolet Vendor

14 Oct, 2014 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Tesco-owned Blinkbox becomes Britain’s first official platform for the cloud-based digital locker

Blinkbox, the electronic sellthrough movie and TV show platform owned by British supermarket chain Tesco, Oct. 14 announced it is now selling movies with UltraViolet functionality — the first official vendor for the cloud-based digital locker in the United Kingdom.

UltraViolet is backed by a consortium of more than 70 companies, including Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, Paramount Home Media Distribution and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

Blinkbox, which offers more than 10,000 digital titles for retail and rental, is considered a key driver in consumer adoption of UV in the U.K. The platform has generated more than 1.5 million registered accounts in the U.K. without a formal launch, according to the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE), which manages UltraViolet.

The U.K. is considered the third-largest packaged-media market in the world, according to IHS. It also has Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video — the former reportedly topping 3 million subscribers in the region.

Consumers in the U.K. can stream or download qualifying UltraViolet titles they have bought as physical discs on a wide variety of devices. Designated UV titles that customers ‘buy to keep’ digitally from blinkbox also qualify for UV rights, including streaming, downloading and sharing with up to five family members.

Consumers in the United States cannot use blinkbox.

Initial titles on sale in Tesco via disc and available to stream or download with UltraViolet include The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Bad Neighbours (the U.K. title for Neighbors), Rio 2 and 300: Rise of An Empire, among others. Customers in the U.K. can redeem an UltraViolet code or link their UltraViolet account to view their collection at blinkbox.com/ultraviolet.

“Tesco and blinkbox have been a notable part of the group of companies that designed and launched UltraViolet,” Mark Teitell, GM of DECE, said in a statement. “Now, their pioneering roll-out of UltraViolet in the U.K. is a major step forward in the enjoyment and value that consumers here will get from collecting movies and TV shows.”

Blinkbox said discs marked with the UV logo purchased at other retailers (besides Tesco) can be automatically added to a customer’s UV library and accessed via blinkbox once the redemption code accompanying the disc has been registered.

“This is about helping movie and TV fans on their journey from physical to digital entertainment while also offering flexibility in how movies and TV shows can be easily shared with family,” Ian Ditcham, category director for entertainment at Tesco, said in a statement.

Availability of UV via blinkbox amounts to a reprieve of sorts for the platform, which reportedly was about to be put up for sale or shuttered by Tesco’s new CEO Dave Lewis.

Lewis is under pressure to right Britain’s largest supermarket retailer after it recently disclosed it had overstated half-year net income by more than $400 million. The news sent Tesco’s stock plunging and resulted in the government conducting an investigation to see if senior officials at Tesco “cooked the books” to mask slumping profits.

About the Author: Erik Gruenwedel

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