A New Digital Future: UV and Flixster

11 Oct 2012 - Justin Herz, SVP, Direct-to-Consumer, Warner Bros. Digital Distribution & General Manager, Warner Bros. Advanced Digital Services.

On October 11, 2011, Warner Bros. released the first DVD that included an UltraViolet (UV) digital copy, Horrible Bosses. A year later, the whole industry has made clear progress, with 7,000+ available UV titles from five major studios and nearly 6 million registered accounts, expected to reach 10 million by the end of the year. Flixster, our own consumer site and app that is a great way to access and enjoy UV films, last month re-launched with some great new capabilities.

So where is UltraViolet at year one, and where are we headed? First off, I should explain what UV means. In business terms, it's a set of industry technical standards for digital ownership. From the consumer perspective, regardless of whether you buy a movie as a DVD, Blu-Ray or digital download, if it has the UV logo that means you can instantly stream or download the film on a wide range of devices and you know your collection will always be available in the future.

At Warner, our aim is to fundamentally shift the entertainment industry to take advantage of opportunities to engage consumers and reinvigorate ownership. Our goal is to connect consumers back to the passion we all have for the movies and television we love – there's a reason I own both the theatrical and director's cut editions of the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the West Wing series box set – and capitalize on the opportunities digital makes possible.

We are still at the beginning stages of digital ownership and, obviously, there is much more innovation that needs to occur and some significant challenges to overcome. But it's already clear that there are a lot of opportunities ahead for Warner and the home entertainment industry as a whole. The good news for consumers is that there has never been a better time to enjoy video anytime and anywhere. They are more in charge of their entertainment options than ever before with so many options – YouTube, Amazon, Vudu, Netflix and now Flixster and so many great devices from Apple, Sony, and Microsoft, just to name a few – that have changed the definition of entertainment.

In order to succeed in this era of consumer empowerment, digital platforms need to continue to bring the world of entertainment to people wherever and however they want. We believe that consumers fundamentally want to own their favorite entertainment media. We've seen it with digital music and digital books – where ownership has been the primary form of digital commerce – and with downloads of TV shows and series (known in the industry as EST), one of the fastest growing segments of our digital video business. We believe there's a huge opportunity to leverage technology to make digital ownership of movies even more exciting than it is today. We need to tap into what consumers love—including new ways to share the content they own and love —and work hard to erase barriers to entry, and create a more compelling user experience.

Our strategy is to focus on innovation that makes ownership more valuable for consumers by creating a better digital product, more accessibility for content, and by spearheading new ways for consumers to build and enjoy their collections. This focus on leading and redefining the industry is why Flixster was a key acquisition for Warner in 2011. It was one of the first companies to realize the opportunity of mobile accessibility married to entertainment discovery and is one of the most downloaded applications on iPhones and iPads ever. The newly re-launched Flixster includes even greater collection management and content discovery tools, along with deep social integration, allowing consumers to find content they want and get it from the retailer of their choice. Stay tuned in the months ahead for more exciting developments like Disc-to-Digital, which will allow consumers to take all the DVDs and Blu-rays they already own and turn them into digital collections right in their own home. As we've seen already, a lot can happen in a year — and will.