The digital media revolution has been a game changer for movie watchers. Physical media like Blu-Ray discs still exist, of course, but digital media, whether streamed or downloaded, is the future.
The benefits of digital media are plentiful. Digital streaming services like the subscription-based Netflix grant anyone with an Internet connection access to thousands of high-definition movies. Digital movies are typically cheaper to buy than the same films on Blu-Ray, while the quality and content (extras and outtakes) is often identical.
Digital movies can be rented for a short time period, but for cinephiles who prefer to own films outright, digital retailers like Apple, Amazon, and Vudu make it easy to add to your movie collection. And since digital retailers don’t sell physical copies of movies but rather digital licenses to those movies, matters of storage and space will not be an issue.
Digital media isn’t without problems, however. One of these is the lack of a standard for digital licenses. Each digital retailer maintains its own proprietary licensing system, and the licenses only operate on that retailer’s platform. Thus, a movie purchased on Vudu will not play in iTunes and vice versa. Since prices often vary among retailers, even if a consumer prefers one platform, it isn’t uncommon for his movie library to be divided among multiple platforms. Confusion naturally results.
Except, now the problem of a fragmented digital movie library has largely been solved, thanks to a free service called Movies Anywhere.
Movies Anywhere is a “digital locker” service that stores a user’s licenses from multiple digital retailers in one central cloud-based repository, and allows these licenses to “talk to” each other and operate across other platforms, not just on the platform on which it was purchased.
Once a user signs up for the Movies Anywhere service and links his accounts with it, movies in each of his libraries will migrate to his other libraries. He can then use the platform he prefers, whether that is iTunes or Vudu or any of the other participating platforms, and it will display his entire library rather than just a subset.
There is some fine print, of course. Movies Anywhere is only available to consumers in the United States. It works with most digital retailers: iTunes, Amazon, Vudu, Xfinity (for Xfinity TV subscribers only), Google Play/YouTube, Microsoft, and FandangoNOW.
Movies Anywhere (owned by The Walt Disney Company) supports movies from the following studios: Disney, Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc., Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp., Universal, and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. So, movies from Paramount, Lionsgate, and MGM will not migrate to other digital platforms, but will remain in the library of the originating platform.
And finally, Movies Anywhere, like its name suggests, only works for feature film digital content, not content made for television. For many, digital television libraries are just as fragmented as digital movie libraries. Here’s hoping Disney rolls out Television Anywhere soon.