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The Common File Format will be a UV Game Changer

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    #16
    Re: The Common File Format will be a UV Game Changer

    An excellent analysis, however, let me give another perspective.

    At my job at a digital media agency, I worked with the DECE on the early beta version of the UltraViolet service, my job was to try to untangle the complex rules of the platform into something that was approaching usable in the form of uvvu.com. I stopped working on the project in early 2012, but for almost 2 years, I was exposed to the deepest levels of discussions about policy, process, technology and more that goes into UltraViolet.

    The central thesis of UltraViolet - the interoperable, multi-DRM compatible "Common File Format" - that you could "download once, and play anywhere" was often called the "DVD of the Internet" by DECE backers, but I think that this was interpreted in different ways by different people. For technologists, it meant an interoperable file object that was independent of retailer or CE maker. For content owners it meant a high-margin sale of a media product. Both of these views, as it turns out, were wrong. In 2008, the same year that the DECE formed, streaming access to media simply exploded in popularity - and with this the consumers perception of content as a product began to wane, and content as a service became ascendant. By 2010, shortly before UltraViolet launched at CES, there was a change to legal policy at the DECE, it made streaming of content a requirement of the seller for one year after the sale. Streaming became far more important than downloading for the consumer than the DECE expected. Originally, the idea was that you'd have a subscription streaming service or an add-on to your cable bill where you'd pay a monthly fee to stream your collection of licensed media. Sony's Mitch Singer, one of the founders of the DECE, has said in multiple public interviews that streaming was envisioned to be like the ATM networks for banks, where you pay a fee to access your money, you'd pay a fee to access your movies. I have sat with Mitch and talked many times and in some ways I agreed with him, but I always favored a bundled service with a monthly fee that stored and played your movies as well as offering other movies and music for "free" (like Vudu, but with a monthly fee to cover unlimited access to "non-premium" content) and maybe some other media subscriptions.

    But back to the CFF and the central premise of UltraViolet. In the years since UltraViolet launched, two things have happened. First, offline is the exception. Yes, some people spend lots of time in planes and on trains where bandwidth is absent or not streaming-friendly, but most people don't. So the need to have a local copy of media is less and less important. Secondly, media access via vendor-specific apps is perfectly acceptable to consumers (Spotify, Pandora, Kindle, Netflix, Vudu) and while it sucks for the seller to have to create and maintain a fleet of device applications, for the consumer, it's actually a pretty neat situation - you install an app, and it plays your content. Apps can handle the ugliness of downloading and managing media content and licenses for you (iTunes, Amazon & Spotify do this particularly well) and while grumbling about having to download unique binaries for 4 devices is somewhat legitimate, the reality is that bandwidth is increasingly "uncapped" for land-line/wifi systems, and for mobile devices, super-compressed versions seem to be perfectly acceptable and don't impact data limits much. Yes, yes, "quality" and all that. I think the videophile complaints about streaming quality have been subsumed by market realities: most people don't actually care about picture quality. So in short - maybe downloads don't matter much anymore. Certainly file systems don't matter in the mobile ecosystem - Steve Jobs was very correct when he said that most people don't want to manage files. So the file object as a unit of importance to the consumer has been subsumed.

    The CFF has been "on the horizon" for a very long time now, and although I have zero regular contact with the DECE anymore, I do monitor what they are doing and from where I sit as an ex-insider, I can imagine that the testing process (which is happening now) is going slowly and there is an abundance of caution needed to ensure that ineroperability actually happens. We're talking about epic complexity here, multiple DRM's, multiple device registration schemes and so on. If they manage to get it to work (and I have no reason to think they won't) I fear that the CFF may arrive on the market much in the same way that color fax machines did - a big improvement over the old, but still mostly irrelevant except for a few corner-cases and geographies.
    Last edited by martyf; 07-09-2013, 09:33 AM. Reason: Minor typos.

    Comment


      #17
      Re: The Common File Format will be a UV Game Changer

      Originally posted by martyf View Post
      So the need to have a local copy of media is less and less important.

      Marty,

      I thank you for taking the time to share your insight.

      in an OtT (Over the Top) VoD environment, streaming is great. I have a Roku 3 piping out 1080p to my family's flat screen on demand and in that situation, I have no desire to have a local file. I just want remote access to my collection.

      In areas where ubiquitous broadband is not reliable or speeds are too slow (Wild-Blue territory comes to mind), a consumer may well want to retain local copies of 1080p titles for uninterrupted playback.

      However, the all but universal acceptance of streaming SVoD services via NetFlix has by in large, brought expectation of streaming to be the defacto standard, imho.

      Most of the company I keep will be able to claim at least one title in a digital file format. Some of my collegues have a frightening number of titles stored as digital files.

      I think these people will become very aware of UltraViolet when CFF is released when today, they probably do not know how to even spell it.

      I am still going to have to agree with Mr. EP's statement in the beginning that the release of CFF by DECE will have a large impact. If you are thinking about the consumers of entertainment media via the CE market, probably not. However, you would be naive to think there are not legions of people watching movies outside the the CE market and it is these people who will be coming onto the reservation when CFF becomes something they need deal with.

      -Walter

      Comment


        #18
        Re: The Common File Format will be a UV Game Changer

        There is also the cost of streaming to Vudu as a company to consider. If all I do with Vudu is stream my purchased movies, how will they recover costs, or make money? I'd envisioned CFF as the free digital copy, and Streaming for the 1st year as part of the deal. I don't see how the model works with just streaming forever, without an added fee.

        Also, from what I've read, CFF will not match Blu-ray for quality. Longer-term, I think it must. Is that an up-sell?

        My preference is to watch HD whenever possible. That can't be done today with my iPad or my PC (no HDMI).

        Comment


          #19
          Re: The Common File Format will be a UV Game Changer

          Originally posted by canadien37 View Post
          I, for one, a longtime VUDU customer, can't wait for CFF to be deployed...I have not purchased many movies as I normally do, and I won't untill CFF arrives......I want the ability to store the files on my NAS, and play through the network.....For my purposes, CFF is critical....along with having DTS-MA and Dolby TrueHD audio(which is part of the spec).....I hope my WD Live Hub will be compliant.......other set top boxes should have the ability too......
          I second this ... this the exactly what I'm waiting for and would like to see as well.

          Comment


            #20
            Re: The Common File Format will be a UV Game Changer

            Originally posted by tsken02 View Post
            There is also the cost of streaming to Vudu as a company to consider. If all I do with Vudu is stream my purchased movies, how will they recover costs, or make money?

            I think the answer to this is able to be related with an analogy.

            A fuel station selling gasoline will not sustain themselves. It use to be they would commonly augment the lack of income by providing a service station to make automobile repairs.

            Now a days, it is most commonly a convenience store tacked onto the fuel station which provides this income. This business model has proven very successful.

            The concept is the fuel station provides a flow of customers, but operates at cost and without profit.

            It is only that a certain percentage of fuel customers come in to buy a $1.50 bag of potato chips and other items where the 35%+ markup on shelf items provides the business profit. The fuel station just provides a flow of customers.

            In the case of Vudu, or any UV retailer for that matter, the operational costs for providing customers access to their UV library free of charge attracts these customers to their store front.

            From here, customers rent movies and make EST purchases of new titles.

            If every person had established UV library which they all kept static in perpetuity, then the UV retailer would go out of business.

            It would be the same if fuel customers stopped going into the tacked on convenience store.

            However, this is not the case. Instead the access to streaming your UV library attracts you to a UV retailer's store front. From here, just as a convenience store behind a fuel station, a certain number of customers make purchases to sustain the business model.

            You will find this in practice next time you go to fuel your car and also go and buy yourself a $1.50 hot dog and $1.75 slurpee. The business made no profit on your fuel purchase, but they are able to make their payroll because of the profit from the sale of hot dogs and slurpees.

            In the case of Flixster, you are subject to advertisements. In the case of Vudu & M-Go, you are enticed to rent titles and make EST purchases. In both cases, the UV retailer used their DECE membership to attract customers.

            Comment


              #21
              Re: The Common File Format will be a UV Game Changer

              Originally posted by martyf View Post
              In the years since UltraViolet launched, two things have happened. First, offline is the exception. Yes, some people spend lots of time in planes and on trains where bandwidth is absent or not streaming-friendly, but most people don't. So the need to have a local copy of media is less and less important.
              I have to disagree with that statement. I have actually heard, from the head of Sony, that they were very surprised that UV downloads were almost outnumbering streams! And that is even before the CFF is released. I don't think most people trust streams. They think that movies might suddenly disappear from their account. (And that has happened a few times I might add!) But millions upon millions of people use iTunes, because they are able to download their movies to their hard drives, and keep them forever. They can also copy them to different PC's, phones, and tablets, without having to re-download them. Many of those people hate UV, mainly because you can't do the same with UV movies. I don't think you will get many of those people to switch without a robust CFF. Every videophile I talk to, and even casual movie lover's talk about having hundreds of movies on portable hard drives, or their NAS. So I think CFF is very important for UV.

              Comment


                #22
                Re: The Common File Format will be a UV Game Changer

                Originally posted by echopulse View Post
                I have to disagree with that statement. I have actually heard, from the head of Sony, that they were very surprised that UV downloads were almost outnumbering streams! And that is even before the CFF is released. I don't think most people trust streams. They think that movies might suddenly disappear from their account. (And that has happened a few times I might add!) But millions upon millions of people use iTunes, because they are able to download their movies to their hard drives, and keep them forever. They can also copy them to different PC's, phones, and tablets, without having to re-download them. Many of those people hate UV, mainly because you can't do the same with UV movies. I don't think you will get many of those people to switch without a robust CFF. Every videophile I talk to, and even casual movie lover's talk about having hundreds of movies on portable hard drives, or their NAS. So I think CFF is very important for UV.
                We went to the drive in to see Despicable Me 2 and heard it was completely packed. Instead of streaming and wasting my 2GB iPad data plan, I downloaded 3 movies at home, drove and waited in line early, watched 2 downloaded movies, and finally got into the movie. Plugged the iPad into the car so we had full sound support, and the download was perfect. I would have not been able to stream as much as I did and still have enough data for the rest of the plan.

                I LOVE the ability to DOWNLOAD

                Comment


                  #23
                  Re: The Common File Format will be a UV Game Changer

                  Originally posted by echopulse View Post
                  I have to disagree with that statement. I have actually heard, from the head of Sony, that they were very surprised that UV downloads were almost outnumbering streams! And that is even before the CFF is released. I don't think most people trust streams. They think that movies might suddenly disappear from their account. (And that has happened a few times I might add!) But millions upon millions of people use iTunes, because they are able to download their movies to their hard drives, and keep them forever. They can also copy them to different PC's, phones, and tablets, without having to re-download them. Many of those people hate UV, mainly because you can't do the same with UV movies. I don't think you will get many of those people to switch without a robust CFF. Every videophile I talk to, and even casual movie lover's talk about having hundreds of movies on portable hard drives, or their NAS. So I think CFF is very important for UV.
                  I agree that CFF is important, and I can't wait for it either, but we have to be very careful when we talk about downloads being "forever". Hard drives crash, devices fail, devices get replace, and other various things that give downloads a shelf life. The whole point of cloud services and streaming is to try and eliminate this problem. Think about the first wave of digital copies. One code, one download...once you use it, you lose it. They also weren't transferable or able to be put on portable hard drives. Good luck trying to put one on an Android device too, which is used by more people that Apple products now by the way.

                  Downloads may be convenient at times, and I have downloaded movies onto my devices too, but to say that they are "forever" is a little misleading in my view. Not trying to start anything, just giving another opinion

                  Comment


                    #24
                    Re: The Common File Format will be a UV Game Changer

                    I believe that the CFF is very important, but it may be UV (or VUDU) needs to take it a step further. I think a big thing is to get the iTunes people to covert. To do this there's a few important changes that need to occur:

                    1. the download limit needs to be lifted. In order to get a digital copy that is 'forever' if you will need to do this (since a lot of people don't believe in backing up their movies to secondary drives). Unless I'm missing something in the fine print iTunes can be downloaded as many times as you need assuming the movies show up in your purchased list (not all movies do granted)
                    2. UV and/or VUDU or some other UV partner needs to have a central app that I can go to to watch/browse/purchase/redeem my movies (not just website) ... basically iTunes for UV
                    3. mobile apps that would allow me to use wifi or USB connection for my mobile device to move the UV CFF to this device and play it.

                    I know that I can handle the CFF and back it up so I don't think limiting downloads would impact me really, but there are a lot of people that do not do this which may cause problems for people who move to new computers. And without a central app that allows me to connect my iPad, iPhone, android device to the computer and just move the CFF to this device you and be able to play it, a lot of people will still go to iTunes when they can.
                    While steaming is the probably the most common way people are watching their movies (myself included) I don't want to be (nor do others I think) want to be limited to this. I know I've lost internet during storms ... had my speed drop out on me while in the middle of watching moves, etc. I think it would be fantastic to have a central app on you computer that handled your UV downloads, then have devices at home (roku, blue ray players, TV's, etc) just be able to access this and play it (either via wifi or external flash/hard drive attached).
                    I realize that a lot of this sounds like iTunes/apple TV, but they have the right idea, UV could just take it a step further not have it as such a tight and restricted ecosystem. This is what I'd like to see anyway.

                    Comment


                      #25
                      Re: The Common File Format will be a UV Game Changer

                      Originally posted by shadow316 View Post
                      I agree that CFF is important, and I can't wait for it either, but we have to be very careful when we talk about downloads being "forever". Hard drives crash, devices fail, devices get replace, and other various things that give downloads a shelf life. The whole point of cloud services and streaming is to try and eliminate this problem.
                      Originally posted by shadow316 View Post
                      Downloads may be convenient at times, and I have downloaded movies onto my devices too, but to say that they are "forever" is a little misleading in my view. Not trying to start anything, just giving another opinion
                      If they are torrent-able then the 5 download (from a UV provider) limit will be meaningless. At that point I can legally obtain CFF files to any movie, then my UV player checks my licenses (which shouldn't count against the dl limit) and I can play any of the torrented movies I have rights to. Granted, this is how the system is 'supposed to' work and we have no idea if this side of it will be fulfilled in the initial release.

                      Also, I do plan on some redundency, I have a mirrored RAID setup on my NAS waiting for CFF. I may still stream quite often after the CFF launch, but I will have portability and peace of mind knowing I possess a copy of my movies. At that point I might even get rid of most of my physical discs.

                      Comment


                        #26
                        Re: The Common File Format will be a UV Game Changer

                        Originally posted by Speedaddict81 View Post
                        If they are torrent-able then the 5 download (from a UV provider) limit will be meaningless. At that point I can legally obtain CFF files to any movie, then my UV player checks my licenses (which shouldn't count against the dl limit) and I can play any of the torrented movies I have rights to. Granted, this is how the system is 'supposed to' work and we have no idea if this side of it will be fulfilled in the initial release.
                        This is correct - the intent with CFF is to encourage people to pass around the files to friends, etc. If you own it you will get a license automatically when you try to play it on a CFF player that has been linked to your UV account, and if you don't own it you may (depending on the client app) be prompted to purchase it.

                        Also, the download limits are a minimum requirement, not a maximum. It's up to the retailer who sold/redeemed the content to decide if they want to enforce it - I wouldn't be surprised if it's only enforced if it's abused.

                        Comment


                          #27
                          Re: The Common File Format will be a UV Game Changer

                          Interesting announcement by Paramount on use of dts-HD for their CFF packaging.

                          http://www.highdefdigest.com/news/sh...F_Launch/12160

                          Release of CFF is targeted for the 2nd half of 2013. (Obviously it's too late for the 1st half).

                          Comment


                            #28
                            Re: The Common File Format will be a UV Game Changer

                            Originally posted by tsken02 View Post
                            Interesting announcement by Paramount on use of dts-HD for their CFF packaging.

                            http://www.highdefdigest.com/news/sh...F_Launch/12160

                            Release of CFF is targeted for the 2nd half of 2013. (Obviously it's too late for the 1st half).

                            Great article!!!!

                            I kept hearing jon luke picard saying, "I am Locutus of Borg. Resistance is futile."



                            Maybe this will be the final nail in the coffin like the end of HD-DVD paving the way for Bluray to be the sole standard.

                            Comment


                              #29
                              Re: The Common File Format will be a UV Game Changer

                              Here's another article, that mentions CinemaNow support for dts-HD,other studio plans, and market penetration for UV.

                              http://www.twice.com/articletype/new...et-gain/107691

                              In January, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Universal Pictures, and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment announced plans to deliver downloadable CFF movies and TV shows encoded in Dolby Digital Plus surround.
                              A total of 12 million UltraViolet accounts have been activated by consumers, and 9,100 movie titles are available to them, mostly through streaming, Kirchner said.

                              Comment


                                #30
                                Re: The Common File Format will be a UV Game Changer

                                ...that twelve million number is as of the end of Q1`13.

                                Projections are about a million new per month for the next five years.

                                Maybe more, if it gains a wider acceptance. If so, the projections say it could be as high as 1.6mil per month for the next five years.

                                Anyway, we should be around 15 million now, but this is just speculation.

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