UltraViolet now in 800,000+ homes, but still a long way from mainstream

The holy grail for bewildered movie studios facing down a sea change to streaming video rentals, UltraViolet is off to a solid, if unexceptional start.

More than 800,000 customers have signed up for the digital movie platform since its October debut, says market researcher IHS. The firm estimates that the current attach rate among the nascent service’s early supporters sits at 1.25, for more than one million digital movie downloads.

UltraViolet now in 800,000+ homes, but still a long way from mainstream

“One million may not sound like much compared to the 504 million movie discs sold in 2011,” says Tom Adams, IHS principal analyst and director, U.S. media. “However, we have projected that only 19 million digital film files were sold during the entire year of 2011 by electronic sell-through (EST) vendors like iTunes, Xbox Live and Vudu.”

Adams says drawing in new consumers who would otherwise rely on Netflix, Redbox or piracy for their home entertainment needs is an “important priority” for UltraViolet backers. Netflix alone caters to more than 20 million subscribers each month, expanding its reach in the last six months to include Latin America, Ireland and the UK.

UltraViolet boasts support from several major studios, including Sony Pictures, Warner Bros. and Universal. Other companies, however, have taken a wait-and-see approach. Earlier this month, Disney boss Bob Iger said he was skeptical of the plan’s long-term success, pointing to its relative lack of content and consumer unfriendly quirks.

Streaming expert and critic Dan Rayburn blasted last month the UltraViolet consortium for embracing high prices and low quality with its recent move to the cloud.

“What studio executive thinks consumers are going to pay $22.99 to stream a movie when we can buy the DVD for $7 or rent it for less than $2,” Rayburn said.

But all is not lost for the platform, IHS argues. Nods from Flixster, Samsung and Amazon could spur interest this year, with the trio offering new ways for UltraViolet customers to purchase and access content. (via Home Media Magazine)