The Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem consortium picked "UltraViolet" out of 3,000 different options as the brand name for its technology standard and service designed to let consumers access digital movies, TV shows and other content from any participating provider.
The UltraViolet system, which is still in the testing stage, would let someone buy a piece of digital media once and then download or stream it to different devices after logging into an account -- akin to the way automated teller machines authorize bank transactions. DECE is launching an informational website Tuesday for consumers at uvvu.com, which is supposed to be spoken as "you view."
DECE's 58 members include five of the six major Hollywood studios -- Fox Entertainment Group, Warner Bros. Entertainment, NBC Universal, Paramount Pictures and Sony Pictures Entertainment -- along with such cable-industry players as Comcast, Cox Communications, CableLabs, Motorola and Cisco Systems.
Others include Best Buy, IBM, Microsoft, Netflix, Panasonic, the RIAA, Roxio CinemaNow and Toshiba. Companies notably absent from the DECE consortium are Apple and Walt Disney Co.
"We believe UltraViolet will provide a tremendous opportunity for even more choice and control by giving consumers the ability to view content from anywhere on many devices," Mark Coblitz, Comcast's senior vice president of strategic development, said in a statement. "There is no other offering that affords such an open platform to deliver the wealth of digital entertainment choices."
For movie studios, UltraViolet is an attempt to enable new business models for selling access to digital entertainment content amid the decline of DVD sales. For example, MSOs like Comcast could become retailer selling UltraViolet content and also could charge fees to let consumers access their UltraViolet accounts through their cable set-top.
"Our goal is to firmly establish UltraViolet as the symbol for digital entertainment," said Mitch Singer, president of DECE and Sony Pictures Entertainment's chief technology officer.
The name is supposed to connote ubiquity and energy: "It doesn't matter where you go. You can always get it," Singer said. He added that one reason UltraViolet was selected because "we liked that it was a real word -- we didn't want a made-up word."
DECE has selected Neustar, the Sterling, Va.-based company that currently operates the directories for telephone-number portability in North America, to operate the multiparty "digital rights locker." That system is a network-based authentication service and account management hub that will authenticate users' rights to view content from multiple services and on multiple devices. Singer said DECE will begin beta testing with Neustar this fall and expects to have completed testing by the end of 2010.
Users will be able to access UltraViolet content from uvvu.com and create an account on the site free of charge. But Singer said the expectation is that most consumers will access their UltraViolet libraries through service providers and other retailers.
The UltraViolet name was developed by Lexicon Branding, the company behind such brands as "BlackBerry," "Swiffer" and "Pentium." DECE owns the trademark to UltraViolet, which has been registered throughout the world. The uvvu.com site was designed by Empathy Labs, whose clients include FearNet.
Later this year, DECE expects to release additional technical specifications and licensing details for companies that want to offer UltraViolet content, services and devices.