Warner Bros. has confirmed it will no longer be beholden to rights that would see its movies disappear from streaming sites while those titles are available on HBO and its HBO Go web and mobile applications. The closing of this so-called “HBO window” could go a long way toward making digital ownership of UltraViolet titles more appealing to consumers.
UltraViolet hopes to make digital ownership of movies more attractive, by allowing consumers to buy a title once and access it anywhere or on any device. One of the big questions revolving around the impending launch of UltraViolet streaming video services was whether or not studios would have to deal with the rights window, during which HBO has exclusive access to those titles online. Until recently, that meant movies purchased online couldn’t be accessed while HBO had pay TV rights to that content.
On a press briefing Monday afternoon ahead of the launch of the first UltraViolet-enabled title, Horrible Bosses, Warner Home Entertainment execs said that its movies won’t be subject to the HBO window. As a result, anyone who purchases a Warner Bros. DVD or Blu-ray disc won’t have to worry about losing access to the movie online or being blacked out once HBO gets ahold of it.
That doesn’t mean that HBO’s other studio partners — 20th Century Fox and Universal Pictures — aren’t still subject to the same restrictions. Warner Bros. execs wouldn’t comment on where its competitors stood with regards to whether or not HBO had streaming exclusive rights to their movies when they enter the pay TV window. Of course, Warner Bros. and HBO are both part of media conglomerate Time Warner, so their interests are more likely aligned than HBO would be with other studios.
The news that HBO has restructured its deal to allow Warner customers to stream its movies whenever comes at the same time that it is making a big digital push of its own. The premium cable network is making all its movies and original TV series available online, on mobile devices and on connected TV platforms through its HBO Go initiative. Part of Time Warner’s broader TV Everywhere push, HBO Go gives users the ability to access on-demand content as long as they prove that they’re cable subscribers.