Studios ramp up content on cloud system

UltraViolet, the digital locker system Hollywood has been developing with a consortium of retailers and technology firms, will roll out Oct. 11 in the U.S., and within months in the U.K. and Canada.

All of the major studios are supporting the new cloud-based product, although Disney is not one of the more than 70 official members of the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem, which oversees UV.

Warner Bros. exec Justin Herz, speaking during a conference session at Mipcom Tuesday, said that more than half of the studio’s film and TV catalog would be available via UV by the end of 2012 while Fox indicated that “a significant” amount of its fare would soon be UV-enabled. Sony will launch with “The Smurfs” and “Friends With Benefits.”

The first UV release, Warners’ “Horrible Bosses,” bows Tuesday, followed by “Green Lantern.” The first TV skein will be CW’s “One Tree Hill,” but Herz did not say when it would be available.

Studios that have signed up for UV hope the new technology will help boost results for their homevid divisions after DVD sales have declined.

UV-enabled discs allow buyers to watch the same content on 12 different devices with an Internet connection, including connected TVs, laptops, tablets or mobiles, , once they open a streaming account.

The price of storage is expected to be free, to encourage digital sales, but some retailers could tack on an additional charge.

Herz, who serves as senior VP, direct-to-consumer, WB Digital Distribution and general manager of WB advanced digital services, was apologetic about how digital distribution had let down the public, saying “We’ve done a terrible job at introducing digital product and the consumer has voted vociferously against what we’ve done.”

Whether it changes consumer behavior remains to be seen, but Mark Teitell, general manager of the DECE was optimistic: “There is a lot to be worked out. The goal is to make UltraViolet available everywhere Blu-rays and DVDs are for sale.”

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