When the UltraViolet program was first announced, one of its goals was to give studios a way to sell digital versions of movies direct to customers, without having to use iTunes. The aim of the program is “digital portability”, which they believe will convince customers to buy instead of rent.
Not at these prices, it won’t. Paramount opened its direct sales site, ParamountMovies.com. There, more than 60 recent and classic movies are priced from $12.99 – $22.99, depending on age and whether you want SD or HD. That’s a lot for a digital file when they’re not offering anything in competition with free sources other than a legal figleaf (and license lock).
For those who already have a Warner Bros-related UltraViolet account, you still need to add a ParamountMovies.com account and install the Paramount download application. That breaks one of the key promises of UltraViolet, in my opinion. Even though it’s all one account, I still have to pay attention to which studio provides a film in order to know which application I have to open to watch it. Dumb.
Also dumb, and for no reason I can figure out, the ParamountMovies website has disabled opening links in a new tab, so you can’t open up several titles and compare. (Don’t break the web, jerks.) They do offer rental options (streaming only) at $2.99 – $3.99 for a 48-hour viewing period, but it requires a Silverlight-compatible browser and downloading that plugin. Whether rented or “purchased”, you can’t download to your iPad or other mobile device (only stream; downloads are for PC/Mac computers only), which is one of the key features audiences want. Android devices are completely unsupported.
In short, this is yet another example of studios designing new products based on their needs, not customer desires. That pricing is too expensive, especially compared to how much the DVD costs for many of these films, and the requirements are onerous.