Friday, October 20, 2017

Movies Anywhere

Valentina Palladino (via nolen, Joe Rosensteel):

A new service launched late yesterday promises to make streaming your favorite purchased movies easier by putting them all in one place. The new free app Movies Anywhere acts like a digital locker for the movies you’ve paid for through various online retailers, including Amazon Video, Google Play, iTunes, and Vudu. Signing up for a Movies Anywhere account gives you access to the digital locker, which you can then populate with purchased or redeemed movies by logging in to the accounts you have with those online retailers.


Disney launched its service in 2014, and it allowed users to get access to all of the company’s titles in one place. Movies Anywhere is using the same architecture with the blessing and collaboration of five Hollywood studios: Walt Disney Studios (which includes Disney, Pixar, Marvel Studios, and Lucasfilm), Sony Pictures Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox Film, Universal Pictures, and Warner Bros. Entertainment. While discussions are ongoing with Paramount Pictures and Lionsgate to join the service, Movies Anywhere will not launch with any titles from those studios. However, that still means the service has more than 7,300 titles in its library already.

It looks like this will address some of the problems I’ve been having with videos purchased from Apple. I tried it last night, and everything was amazingly easy considering what must be going on behind the scenes. First, I created an account on the Web site and gave it access to my iTunes and Amazon accounts. Because I’d added two services, I got five free movies: Big Hero 6, The Lego Movie, Ghostbusters (2016), Ice Age, and Jason Bourne. (Before I read the fine print that explains this, I thought it was a bug that it was showing movies that shouldn’t be my library.)

All of the movies from both services are available in the Movies Anywhere iOS app (which seems somewhat better than Apple’s TV app), as well as in the Amazon Prime Video app (which I prefer). In addition, my iTunes purchases now show up in my Amazon account on the Web and in the Amazon Instant Video app on my Blu-ray player. Presumably they would also work on a Kindle Fire or other Android tablet, if I had one. I almost can’t believe that this is possible.

Unfortunately, this only works for movies, not TV shows or concert videos. And only certain studios are participating. In addition to movies from Paramount and Lionsgate, I noticed that the recent James Bond films are missing. These were co-produced by Columbia (which is part of Sony) and MGM (which is not participating).

Update (2017-10-25): Rob Griffiths:

What’s really amazing, though, is that you can not only combine purchases from multiple sources into iTunes, but convert and/or upgrade them in the process. Thanks to Movies Anywhere, I’ve been able to do two seemingly amazing things…

  1. Put an UltraViolet-only (i.e. no iTunes version) digital redemption movie into the iTunes ecosystem.
  2. Paid a modest fee—not to Apple—and converted an old physical DVD into a high-def—and 4K—digital version.


Beyond redeeming all codes, one really cool feature is the ability to convert any DVD or Blu-ray physical disc into a digital version, in only a matter of minutes—for a small fee, of course. You can convert DVDs to SD for $2, or to HD for $5; Blu-ray conversions cost $2, and obviously, they’re converted to HD only. How do you do this magic?

You do it courtesy of Vudu and the Disc-to-Digital feature in the Vudu iOS app—they offer a Mac desktop app, too, but I didn’t try that one.

Update (2018-08-31): Josh Centers:

One of the major unsung benefits of Movies Anywhere is that it lets you comparison shop between digital retailers. A digital movie is identical no matter where you get it, but there can be some significant pricing differences between stores. Here are a few Movies Anywhere-eligible titles from various eras. Prices were sampled on 30 August 2018.

5 Comments RSS · Twitter

I concur, Movies Anywhere was a very simple setup. Create account, then link pre-existing accounts, not withstanding my current inability and non desire to use iTunes to link my iTunes content. However, I noticed the same problems, I'm missing content from every service I linked, so that means I still have to log into each service's app/channel to watch certain titles.

Even with such a caveat, this is still better than the pre-existing solution of complete non interoperability. Each service's compatible films showing up everywhere is pretty dang cool, which means I'm not stuck with the Movies Anywhere app/channel if I prefer another service's app/channel's design.

"I almost can’t believe that this is possible."

Yeah. I'm surprised as well. I always figured that the studios saw silo-ing of purchases as a feature, not a bug. Buy a movie though Apple, and when you wise up and get an open platform lean-back OTT box, you'd need to buy the movie again. Buy a movie through Vudu, and if they ever get out of the business, again, you'd need to buy the movie again.

"Presumably they would also work on a Kindle Fire or other Android tablet"

More to the point, if you ever wise up and get a (cheaper and better) Roku or Fire TV, it would also work there. Same with a smart TV platform.

"Unfortunately, this only works for movies, not TV shows or concert videos. And only certain studios are participating."

Yeah. While this is obviously a boon to those ghettoized with an Apple or Google video collection, moving forward, those folks should still strongly consider doing future purchases though a more open platform vendor like Amazon or Vudu.

(For those of us who avoided Apple and Google, Movies Anywhere is sort of a nothingburger. But it's still damn interesting as a student of the industry.)

"Anywhere" has a typically US-centric definition. "You must be ... a resident of the United States, all U.S. territories, or the U.S. associated states of the Federated States of Micronesia and Palau".
Outside the US, no service for you.

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