UltraViolet, for Digital Movies, Is Done

UltraViolet logo

UltraViolet, launched in 2011 as a movie studio alternative to iTunes’ growing dominance of digital video, is ending. (The first studio to use it was Warner.) The service, which was planned to allow you to aggregate digital copies of TV shows and movies and watch on a variety of devices, has been generally replaced by Movies Anywhere (assuming you’re in the US), which has the benefit of including Disney (who originally launched it) and working across more services, including iTunes. UltraViolet will shut down on July 31, 2019.

They’re warning users not to unlink or close their UltraViolet library, as they’re trying to continue access. However, they say, “in the majority of cases, your movies and TV shows will remain accessible at previously-linked retailers.” It’s that “majority” you have to watch out for. I’ve already identified two that aren’t available at Vudu, currently owned by Walmart. One I resolved by reentering the code I used back when (since I still had the flyer and the DVD — but most people won’t). The other simply isn’t available. Plus, TV show seasons have never been available on Movies Anywhere. And the number of participating retailers have decreased, with several of them, like Target Ticket, going out of business.

(On the bright side, going over the various libraries in detail meant I found a bunch of stuff I didn’t know I had, since they’d come free with Blu-ray or were other giveaway offers. I made a complete list so I can figure out if anything disappears. And that risk is why I still have a ton of DVDs.)

One big hitch is that the participating studios are different. I have a list of sixteen movies that aren’t on Movies Anywhere, because they were put out by Lionsgate or Paramount or other studios that don’t participate. They’re still available on Vudu, but that breaks the whole promise, that you won’t have to remember which service to log into to watch a film you “own” digitally. This is what drives people back to piracy.

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