CES: Studio execs push UltraViolet

Disc-to-digital, Blu-ray promotions could promote adoption of system

The homevideo chiefs of five major studios gathered like superheroes on stage at the Consumer Electronics Show on Tuesday to throw their weight behind UltraViolet as Hollywood hopes increased usage will increase digital sales.

The execs — David Bishop, Craig Kornblau, Mike Dunn, Ron Sanders and Steve Beeks, heads of homevideo at Sony Pictures, Universal Studios, Twentieth Century Fox, Warner Bros. and Lionsgate — joined Consumer Electronics Assoc. president and CEO Gary Shapiro to support Walmart’s move to allow consumers to convert their discs to digital files at home through the retailer’s Vudu streaming service and UV.

Sanders sees “Disc-to-Digital” as a way to boost awareness for UV, which execs say has struggled to find mainstream traction in its first year on the market.

“We’re extremely optimistic about in-home disc to digital,” Sanders said. “We believe the connected benefits will lead to exponential growth.”

As part of an additional marketing push, the execs announced a promotion giving buyers of Internet-connected Blu-ray players five free movies and those of web-enabled TVs 10 films that would only be available through UV.

Promo launches later this year, with titles coming from the studios repped during the CES announcement. LG Electronics, Panasonic, Philips, Samsung, Sony Electronics, Toshiba and Vizio, as well as Best Buy’s CinemaNow, Flixster.com, Nook Video and Walmart’s Vudu.com will also support the effort.

“Sometimes we disagree, but sometimes we come together,” said Shapiro of the collaboration between Hollywood and the hardware biz at the event, which kicked off his annual CES keynote.

“It is terrific to see leading companies in content and hardware come together and agree on a standard allowing more content, more options and more products to consumers,” Shapiro said. “This new promotional effort exemplifies the spirit of the CES as the home for introducing exciting new innovations and cross-industry partnerships to the world.”

Shapiro talked up the growth of CES in 2013, from a new high of 1.9 million square feet of exhibit space to the estimated 20,000-plus products being launched or announced at the show.

“Innovate or die,” he said. “It is what defines our industry and our nation.”