Walt Disney has brought together five of the six major Hollywood studios to provide a new digital content locker for the ownership and playback of streamed movies accessed through an app called Movies Anywhere.

Movies Anywhere, which launched Wednesday night, uses a free app and a web site that serves as a cloud-based digital content locker centered on Disney’s “KeyChest” digital authentication system. It is expected to provide an alternative to the stalled, UltraViolet system, which has been hindered by poor promotional and consumer awareness efforts in addition to the lack of participation from several key players including Disney and Amazon.

With Movies Anywhere, users will have access not only to the fare of Disney (and its affiliated Pixar, Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm properties) but movies from Sony Pictures Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox Film, Universal Pictures and Warner Bros. Entertainment as well.

Conspicuously absent from the list so far are Paramount and Lionsgate.

Through the Movies Anywhere app users will be able to access their disparate libraries of purchased digital movies and videos in one central place. They will also be able to use the app to find and purchase additional movies through participating retailers, and share their libraries with up to five sub-account users and devices.

The service will provide access to a combined library of more than 7,300 digital movies to start. However, initially the fare is only being offered in SD HD and Full HD resolution. No 4K titles are supported at launch, a possible indication that the service is targeting users of portable small screen viewing devices as the low-hanging fruit.

Participating digital retailers who will provide access to sales of the streamed or downloaded titles include: Amazon Video, Google Play, iTunes and Vudu (Walmart’s service which also works with UltraViolet).

Read more about the Movies Anywhere service after the jump:

To use Movies Anywhere, customers can set up an account by downloading the free app and linking to any of the participating digital retailers. The Movies Anywhere service will then automatically aggregate titles in the customers’ libraries with the participating retailer.

The Movies Anywhere app is available from Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, and on Amazon Fire devices, Android devices, Android TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Roku devices. It is also available at MoviesAnywhere.com. The service is not yet on game consoles.

In addition to accessing and viewing existing digital libraries through one centralized app, Movies Anywhere users will be able to purchase additional digital movies from the Movies Anywhere retailers. Customers can also redeem coupons for purchased disc-based movies (DVDs or Blu-ray Discs). The Movies Anywhere brand will begin to appear on boxes of physical disc movies next year, the service said.

Disney said it will transfer movies of those subscribed to its previous Disney Movies Anywhere service into the new Movies Anywhere services. Similarly, any UltraViolet movies will be synched over from participating digital retailer accounts.

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Movies Anywhere will permit up to five subaccounts in addition to the master account. These can be personalized to individual viewer preferences for recommendations and, in the case of children, viewing restrictions.

Master account holders can control access to more adult-oriented fare, with R-ratings.

Other features of the service will be the ability to begin watching a title on one registered device and finish viewing it on another. Also, two viewers can watch the same title on two different devices at the same time, and up to four viewers can stream different content on different devices simultaneously.

As an incentive to join, Movies Anywhere is giving subscribers up to five free digital movies. When consumers link to the first retailer on the service, they get free access to “Ghostbusters” (2016) and “Ice Age.” Linking to a second retailer gives consumers free access to “Big Hero 6,” “Jason Bourne” and “The Lego Movie.”

Going forward, Disney plans to expand the number of platforms, studios and digital retailers participating with Movies Anywhere.


By Greg Tarr


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