Saffron Digital Makes UltraViolet Easy for Retailers

-Retailers ‘Lining Up’ for UV Locker Services

-More Education Needed Among Consumers

Saffron Digital has launched an end-to-end UltraViolet platform that enables retailers, content owners and device manufacturers to quickly deploy a gateway to the UltraViolet locker service, allowing consumers to access their digital content across devices and platforms.

UltraViolet, which is backed by a number of studios, was conceived two years ago as a solution to the disc-digital disconnect: UV lets consumers access digital content they have purchased across devices and platforms, as a response to the DRM obstacles that prevent consumers from viewing digitally-purchased content where ever they want.

Saffron Digital (SD) is no new comer to digital locker services. It has offered video delivery platform solutions and digital lockers for video content since 2009. “The company was born out of a huge UK DVD retail business,” Dan Peters director of products at Saffron Digital, told The Online Reporter. “They saw the potential of digital video, and how the industry is going to move in that direction.”

Saffron Digital has built a number of digital lockers for device makers and content owners. Previous clients include Nokia, Samsung, HTC and KDDI, a media company based in Japan. The company has focused on giving users rights to access content in the cloud in its services. UV is the logical development for digital content, Peters said, and so a natural choice for Saffron Digital to partner.

“We saw there was a lot of opportunity for this type of technology,” Peters said. “There’s a market need for rolling this out in other markets across the world for electronic sell through, transactional VoD, rental content, subscription services, and more opportunity to deliver this off of one single platform, globally.”

The UV Platform

Saffron Digital has folded UV capabilities into the latest iteration of its digital locker platform. The UV platform offers content owners and retailers an “out of the box” solution to offer UV titles to consumers. The platform includes content preparation and a content management system, storefront services and design, digital locker services and payment and authentication.

The platform is also built to easily deploy UV locker service to new markets, which Peters said can be a real challenge. “Rather than paying a service provider, and worrying about how to deliver UltraViolet in France as it launches in 2013, or in other territories in 2014, our clients can launch a digital locker service today, knowing that when UV becomes available in different markets, Saffron Digital can easily configure the service and get that service live,” Peters said.

Saffron Digital joined Akamai’s NetAlliance Partner Program earlier this year, and the UltraViolet platform integrates Akamai’s content delivery network (CDN) solution. Akamai offers Saffron Digital one of the largest CDN with a global distribution.

“When people are using our applications with UltraViolet content, we know they are getting the best experience, in terms of how the content is being delivered to them,” Peters said. “We know their services have a hugely reliable scale.”

CFF Almost Here

The platform also offers a proprietary common file format (CFF) player. The CFF player allows users to access and download titles in the same format, across devices. “That’s a key piece of our UV platform,” Peters said. “With our player, we can easily help UltraViolet get CFF to market, by making that available across Android, iOS and Web.”

Digital Entertainment Consortium Ecosystem (DECE) general manager Mark Teitell said CFF is currently in beta testing and should be available in the US in late 2013, according to an interview with Home Media Magazine, though last year the CFF was promised to roll out in Q1 2013.

“They’re running a number of beta phases in terms of how CFF gets rolled out, and the capabilities of devices to play back that content,” Peters said.

Saffron Digital’s player also enables users to switch between multiple audio tracks, subtitles, ability to scan or browse between chapters and surround sound.

Retailers Line Up for UV Service

In the US, some of the big retailers, notably Walmart and Best Buy, have integrated the UV locker with their digital video retail business. Peters said retailers in the UK are beginning to follow suit. “This is where we’re seeing most of the demand from,” Peters said. “Brick and mortar retailers are realizing that consumers want to consume content online, available across connected devices, and so a big focus that they have is how do they bridge that gap.”

Content providers and studios are also interested in the platform. Some content owners are looking to offer direct-to-consumer services and digital video sales, and want to make sure to offer UV-enabled titles. “They want to have that relationship with the consumer,” Peters said.

Though Peters didn’t mention it specifically, we think there’s a whole lot of room for device makers to offer UV locker services as well. TiVo seems to us to be a good fit: the company’s DVRs already offer most of the other OTT services, and a UV locker app seems like a logical addition to its app library.

UltraViolet is also gaining market traction in new markets around the world. The consortium announced this week that UV will be launching in France and Germany by the end of Q3 2013. The service is “live” in Australia and New Zealand, but has yet to launch there, Teitell said.

Retailers in new markets are “lining up” to launch UV locker services, the company said. “We’re in enhanced discussion with a number of clients globally. We’re seeing a lot of demand in the UK, the US and also in Australia and New Zealand,” Peters said.

Why Aren’t Consumers Lining Up, Too?

The most recent estimates peg UltraViolet accounts worldwide at around 12 million.

Despite enthusiasm from studios and retailers alike ….


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