Australian digital retailer, Access Digital Entertainment, will become the first online retailer to offer Ultraviolet-enabled digital content in the UK when it launches WowHD.tv, partner site of WowHD.co.uk. The new platform will offer download-to-own and video-on-demand content compatible with Ultraviolet (UV), marking the first time UV copies of movies and TV shows will be made available for purchase as a standalone offering - rather than sold as part of a bundle with physical discs - in the UK.
Following the launch of the Ultraviolet initiative in Australia last month, Access Digital Entertainment affiliate company ezyflix.tv, launched a similar content delivery platform in Australia, offering UV functionality on approximately 2000 digital movies and TV shows.
Access Digital Entertainment's WowHD.tv will struggle to gain market traction in the already crowded UK digital video retail landscape. However, as the first digital UV retailer in the UK market, WowHD.tv will be well placed strategically should the Ultraviolet initiative continue to gain consumer awareness and improve its market presence in the UK.
To date, in the UK, UV has been used exclusively as value-add-material for DVD and Blu-ray Disc (BD); bundling UV codes in the packaging for physical discs. This strategy, adopted by participating Hollywood studios, is intended to support physical sales as much as spreading UV ownership. As in the US where consumers are already able to buy digital UV stand-alone movies, the introduction of a similar stand-alone offering in the UK was inevitable.
It is hoped that the option to buy UV-enabled digital content - without the necessity of purchasing a physical copy of a movie or TV show - will entice consumers' to build their own digital collection with the promise of being able to watch their content anywhere, anytime and on any device. Early familiarity with the cloud format would also increase the likelihood of consumers adopting Ultraviolet when purchasing a DVD or BD. However, other video retailers in the UK still need to begin offering UV as a stand-alone product to raise consumer awareness of the digital locker system.
In addition to this UV still has other obstacles to overcome; at the time of writing the UV system is predominantly adopted by US studios with only a handful of UV enabled titles released by independent distributors in the UK. The number of devices that offer UV as an application is still relatively limited and major online services (iTunes, Zune Video Marketplace) do not yet offer Ultraviolet integration. Furthermore, the UV system, like other forms of digital consumption also requires a significant change in consumers' video consumption habits.