UltraViolet & Flixster coming to an end
– how do I keep my UV movies?

It was the movie industry’s attempt to enter the digital age. Buy a Blu-ray or DVD, and you’d get a digital copy as well — no need to download!

The earliest efforts to actually have a digital copy there in the packet didn’t work too well, a combination of format problems and general incomprehension of how to transfer and watch the file provided — how did you get it on your iPad? And besides, Hollywood is wildly allergic to movie files floating around; it couldn’t last.

So then came UltraViolet, which styled itself “a cloud-based digital rights locker” for films and TV. Instead of the actual file, you got a slip with a code on it, you logged onto UltraViolet, and then you could access the movie on any platform on any device. It was backed by a consortium (the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem, DECE) with no fewer than 85 film studios, TV companies and other providers, including hardware manufacturers. UltraViolet ended up with some 30 million users. What could possibly go wrong?

Two things. Firstly the rise and rise of movie streaming, Netflix et al, has made movie ownership less relevant, and has seen a plunge in disc sales, making cloud-based ‘sales’ still less important to overall movie distribution.

But also crucial was Disney breaking away with its ‘Movies Anywhere’ system, which then began bringing other non-Disney studios onboard. From the beginning of 2018, fewer UltraViolet codes were being included with new discs. By the end of 2018, 20th Century Fox, Universal and Paramount had all stopped issuing UltraViolet rights for its movies. In January this year, DECE made the still-surprising announcement that UV itself will shut down on 31 July 2019.

Where will my movies go?
The situation is complicated in Australia by UV being delivered by third-party solutions, notably Flixster. Flixster has always worked impeccably well for us at Sound+Image, and we have a nice little movie collection sitting up there in the cloud. We can’t say we use it much, but we don’t want to lose it either.

And as yet, Disney’s Movies Anywhere is not operating outside the United States, so we can’t start using that instead. For the same reasons, our discs don’t have those codes inside.

In the US, a variety of solutions have been offered. Sony has its Ultra 4K app which can stream their content in ultraviolet accounts. Paramount is redirecting content to Vudu.

Here in Australia, Flixster has now alerted users that it also is closing.

“Flixster Video is planning to shut down its website, applications and operations on October 31, 2019. To enable you to continue to enjoy your video collection after the shutdown of Flixster Video, we have made arrangements to allow Flixster Video users to migrate available videos in their Flixster Video collections to Google Play.”

This is good news if it works smoothly. Google play is widely accessible across platforms, even Apple, because your Google play purchases can be watched via the YouTube app under Library/Purchases.

Flixster hasn’t yet told us how to make that change: the migration process was scheduled for July 2019 - but on 27 July, a second email arrived stating:

"While we had expected the Flixster Video – Google Play migration process to be available in July, this migration process is not yet ready and available for Flixster Video users. We expect to launch this service soon and appreciate your patience." 

Interestingly you can still redeem digital movie vouchers on Flixster, although the movies will no longer link into UltraViolet, because UltraViolet will have gone.

In the meantime it’s essential that Flixster users log on to their account immediately (i.e before July 21) and check their UltraViolet account and Flixster accounts are linked. Log on to www.flixstervideo.com/account to check this.

Your movies should then be ready for the official migration when it happens. Here’s hoping!