Seeking to accelerate their Ultraviolet digital initiative in order to keep consumers buying movies as they abandon traditional discs, six Hollywood studios announced a promotional partnership with top electronics companies at the Consumer Electronics Show on Tuesday.
Gary Shapiro, president of the Consumer Electronics Assn., unveiled the plan along with Hollywood studio executives at his CES opening keynote address.
Beginning later this year, people who buy certain Internet-connected Blu-ray disc players will get five free movies in their Ultraviolet digital lockers. Buyers of certain Internet-connected televisions will get 10 free online films.
The promotion is intended to give consumers a reason to check out Ultraviolet, which lets users store movies online and stream or download them on a variety of Internet-connected digital devices.
Manufacturers participating in the promotion include LG, Panasonic, Philips, Samsung, Sony, Toshiba and Vizio. Lionsgate, Paramount Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Universal Pictures and Warner Bros. are all providing movies.
After a rough start in late 2011, Ultraviolet grew during 2012. There are now more than 9 million registered accounts, compared with fewer than 1 million a year ago and 3 million in June.
Last year, total home entertainment revenue in the U.S. grew 0.23% to just over $18 billion, reversing seven straight years of decline in the business that provides the majority of most movies' profits.
Digital purchases and rentals turned that tide and studio executives are eager to accelerate it in 2012.
"The most important thing for all of us is focusing on driving adoption of the digital ecosystem," said Warner Bros. home video President Ron Sanders.
Movie companies hope that once consumers use their free Ultraviolet movies, they will better understand how to watch and store movies online. They may then be more likely to buy films through the Internet or convert DVDs they already own through the growing number of options for disc-to-digital conversion.