Warner Bros will be the first cab off the rank with Ultraviolet in Australia, pairing The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey on Blu-Ray and DVD with a code to redeem the digital license for the film and access to download or stream it.
Customers picking up The Hobbit will be able to log into Ultraviolet through Flixster: an app for PC, Mac, iOS and Android that currently marries movie reviews with showtimes. From May 1, the app will expand to include Ultraviolet content in a "My Movies" tab.
Warner Bros says that while it can't control pricing in individual stores, it is not charging extra for the digital license for The Hobbit, and that it expects its retail partners to follow suit.
Once the digital license is redeemed, films can be streamed to compatible devices, or downloaded and watched offline. The file downloaded is targeted to a particular device. For example, The Hobbit downloaded to a PC is just over 2GB in size, while on a smartphone it is 1GB.
Users can nominate 12 devices to a single UltraViolet account and can stream up to three movies simultaneously.
An expected digital journey
Despite being a milestone in Australian multimedia, this is not the global introduction of Ultraviolet. The platform launched in the US in 2011, and now counts over 9,000 titles within its system.
Ultraviolet is a service is borne out of the collective interests of some of the biggest names in cinema and technology. Facing a need to digitise content, movie studios like Warner Bros, Paramount, Sony and 20th Century Fox (among 74 collaborating companies) have created Ultraviolet as a common platform for rights management that all parties can use to offer digital versions of their content to the public.
As such, The Hobbit will be the first of many release in 2013 featuring an Ultraviolet digital copy in the box with a physical disc. Warner Bros intends to use Ultraviolet throughout the year, with films like Man of Steel and Pacific Rim, and TV shows including Fringe and The Big Bang Theory.
Though none of the other studios have announced UltraViolet content yet, it is expected that all will begin including redemption codes with physical discs in the coming months.