You may have seen it coming a mile off: JB Hi-Fi has launched a streaming video service, but it's not exactly as you might have expected it to be.

Rather than offering a catalogue of titles for rental, JB Hi-Fi Video Now is instead a portal for Ultraviolet video content. When customers buy UltraViolet titles on DVD or Blu-Ray they can retrieve a digital license for the same film and stream it through Video Now to TVs, tablets and phones.

JB Hi-Fi already has apps available for iOS and Android devices, as well as Mac and Windows PCs.

UltraViolet content will be available on upcoming releases, starting with The Hobbit. The Video Now site is also advertising the movies Gangster Squad, This is 40 and Django Unchained as imminent releases with UltraViolet licenses.

Warner Bros will host a similar UltraViolet portal through Flixster and customer will be able to access their content through either service.

It's no Netflix

Though it will be a new service in Australia this year, UltraViolet has been around for a few years already. The service launched in 2011 in the US, and has grown beyond just linking the sale of physical copies with a digital license, to a fully-fledged rental service, like iTunes.

There is also a disc-to-digital service run by supermarket chain Walmart, that lets you purchase digital licenses for any movie you own on DVD. You can even choose whether to pay just US$2 for a standard-definition digital version, or upgrade to an HD copy for US$5.

It will be a while before Australians have access to comparable features in the UltraViolet service locally.