Disney bangs heads together

5 November 2014

HOLLYWOOD, CA: Disney, the Hollywood film studio, has reached an arrangement with Apple and Google whereby the tech rivals will permit consumers who buy a Disney movie from their respective online stores to play it on devices running the other's operating system.

The Wall Street Journal described the move as "an unprecedented agreement to share rights to digital content" and explained that the tech businesses would pay Disney a wholesale rate for each copy of a film sold and keep any profits, regardless of how or where people watched.

Consumers, who may own a number of different devices, are now able to use an Android tablet, for example, to buy a film from Google's Play Store and watch it later on an Apple TV.

Until now both companies have restricted content bought with them to their particular devices, a strategy decried by the film studios which argue it deters people from buying digital movies as they worry their library might vanish if they buy a different device.

"This is about getting people comfortable with building their digital movies collection," said Jamie Voris, chief technology officer at Walt Disney Studios. "Disney is going to protect them and make sure they can watch their movies wherever they want to."

Disney has achieved what the rest of Hollywood has failed to. Three years ago all the other major studios formed a coalition called Ultraviolet with the same aim of enabling people to buy digital movies that, like DVDs, could be played on any device. But none of these three were part of that.

When Jonathan Zepp, head of Google Play Movies partnerships, was asked if films from other studios would become similarly available, he avoided answering, musing that this was a "philosophically interesting" question.

He added that Ultraviolet had taken a different approach to that of Disney Movies Anywhere. "[Disney's] was the one we felt was the right path for us to move forward with right now," he said.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal; additional content by Warc staff