PEVE 2014: Ease of use, complexity issues hinder UltraViolet
| 30 September 2014
Just as the digital locker technology will soon get a boost from the UK's leading content firm, the UltraViolet digital locker service is struggling to take off, still beset by issues regarding complexity.
This was the fundamental finding of a panel event entitled 'Keep buying — reinventing entertainment retail in the digital age' at PEVE Entertainment Business Futures 2014 at which the BBC would be launching locker-based paid-for content as part of its BBC Store service when it launches in 2015.
The panellists — encompassing representative from BBC Worldwide, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, BT TV, blinkbox and UltraViolet founding group DECE — all agreed that if UltraViolet was ever to make good on its potential it needed to be enhanced in order for users to have much improved access to content. Otherwise, as BBC Worldwide's president UK & ANZ Marcus Arthur noted bluntly, it stood to miss out on millions, something which he said was the responsibility of everyone concerned with digital locker's ecosystem.
Even though there was an accepted shift from physical to digital media, BT TV general manager of content acquisition Ian Moss told delegates that although 45% of people in the UK had ever bought a DVD, only 2% of his customers have made the equivalent electronic purchase. Moss was clear as to what to attribute this to: "It's a huge opportunity, but also UltraViolet's complexity is a huge challenge. For BT to deliver [TV and video] to the set-top box we've seen significant changes in viewers' buying patterns. But UltraViolet usage is difficult ... the service needs to offer a great viewing experience."
Taking the criticism on-board, Yves Caillaud, DECE's Europe region managing said that access — whether to a TV or indeed a mobile device — was the key to the future of UltraViolet. "Is UltraViolet that complex in STB environment [such as BT TV] have to say yes and we need much more simpler and cheaper implementation," he added. Yet Caillaud was confident that there was already an appetite for the service, indicating that currently there were 1.5 million UltraViolet accounts in the UK, something even more encouraging as there was only one mode of entry, the Flixster movie service.
Adding his contribution, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment UK managing director Robert Price warned that even though the industry had stayed robust throughout the recent recession — with his company alone reporting electronic sell-through sales up 200% year-on-year across the entire repertoire and genres — for UltraViolet to succeed it, Fox needed simplicity. He remarked: "We need to make sure that we don't make the same format mistakes as Blu-ray; if we keep the message complex we will fail."