UltraViolet can boost SVOD as well as EST, says Sony’s Stephens

The UltraViolet ecosystem will increasingly enable subscription services as well as electronic sell-through, according to Spencer Stephens, chief technology officer, Sony Pictures Entertainment, speaking at the OTTtv World Summit in London today.

For businesses, Stephens said, UltraViolet supported both download to own and streaming models. “There is value for all in the ecosystem,” he said.

UltraViolet not only allowed download to own but could help boost subscription VOD models via streaming, said Stephens, by offering their subscribers access to their UV locker. This could make their services stickier and their recommendation engines better because they would know what subscribers actually liked enough to buy outright.

Sell-through has proved surprisingly resilient as a proportion of digital distribution business, while rental has continued to lag behind, said Stephens.

Consumers are still frustrated by their inability to share content with members of their family and friends, he said. They also have concerns about the reliability of hardware and their ability to transfer content between devices.

UltraViolet can provide guaranteed access through the ability to re-download content. 
”This effort is going to take some time to ramp up but it is going to ramp up,” he said.

Stephens said there were currently six million UltraViolet accounts and UltraViolet offered access to about 7,000 titles. Five retail or streaming services and four electronic sell-through businesses are currently using the system, he said. While Apple was not part of the initiative, UltraViolet-enabled apps including Flixter and Vudu were available on Apple devices, he said.

Stephens said that the UltraViolet ecosystem was growing, with Barnes & Noble’s Nook tablet and Vudu’s disk-to-digital service being among recent additions to the family of UltraViolet-enabled devices and services.

Use of a common file format enabled device manufacturers to concentrate on adding value to their devices rather than spend time enabling the viewing of multiple formats, said Stephens.

Stephens said that one of the benefits of UltraViolet was that it provided a distinct value proposition for the consumer by allowing content to be viewed across multiple devices. He said that compatibility with multiple DRMs was an important aspect of UltraViolet. The standard currently covers the five most popular DRM systems, he said.

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