How bad are things for Hollywood’s UltraViolet initiative right now? So bad that Warner Bros., the studio behind Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2, is giving away coupon codes for the movie to Apple’s iTunes store to placate unhappy customers.

harry potter

How bad are things for Hollywood’s UltraViolet initiative right now? So bad that Warner Bros., the studio behind Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2, is giving away coupon codes for the movie to Apple’s iTunes store to placate unhappy customers.

UltraViolet was meant to improve the user experience for movie buyers, by allowing them to purchase a title once and watch it on multiple devices afterward. But the initial implementation of UltraViolet, which relies on Warner Bros.’ Flixster app to stream and download movies online that consumers bought in Blu-ray or DVD format, has been getting panned in customer reviews.

We’ve already covered customer dissatisfaction with the Flixster app in the first two UltraViolet releases, Horrible Bosses and The Green Lantern, and that dissatisfaction continues with the latest Harry Potter title. Of the more than 400 reviews for the Blu-ray version of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 on Amazon, more than half are 1-star reviews, and most of those are focused on the poor user experience for UltraViolet. That’s bad news for Warner Bros., which was hoping that a major franchise like Harry Potter could help introduce even more new users to the UltraViolet digital format.

It’s such bad news, in fact, that Flixster has sought to appease unhappy users by offering them the ability to download the movie for free from Apple’s iTunes instead. As pointed out by BTIG analyst Richard Greenfield, Flixster has begun issuing iTunes coupon codes to users who issue complaints at support.ultraviolet.flixster.com. Multiple reviewers claim to have gotten access to the iTunes version of the Harry Potter film, and Greenfield even got Flixster to comp him a copy without providing an actual UltraViolet code to prove he had purchased the film.

Before the launch of UltraViolet, iTunes was a popular way for some studios to offer a digital copy of a film to consumers when they purchased a physical copy of the disc. But since Flixster is the first application to officially support UltraViolet, that’s where the studios are placing their bets. To some, UltraViolet was even seen as an alternative to iTunes, which today holds about half of all digital movie sales online.

To further complicate matters, Apple and iTunes are not part of the DECE UltraViolet consortium. In fact, Apple and partner Disney are putting their efforts behind an alternative to UltraViolet called KeyChest.

For those reasons, it seems unlikely that sending dissatisfied is a long-term solution to UltraViolet’s ills. And for studios looking to tout the advantages of their new digital movie format, pushing users to iTunes seems ill-advised. Then again, if you can’t beat ‘em…

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  1. I got my iTunes code, and am happy Warner Bros. at least attempted to address customer concerns.

    However, the thing about UltraViolet is that it’s the digital equivalent of the HD-DVD vs. Blu-ray format wars consumers hated, except that the studios are trying to introduce the competing format (UltraViolet) AFTER there’s a clear leader (iTunes).

    I personally have nearly 200 movies stored in iTunes and all my backups, syncs, TV streaming and “Home Sharing” is set up to use Apple’s format.

    UltraViolet isn’t even compatible with most of my home ecosystem and methods of use, and I have ZERO desire to have to go more than one place to manage my digital copies anyway.

    I wouldn’t mind digital copies being offered in more than one format, but attempting to SWITCH formats on me is a deal killer.

    1. how do u get the coupon?

    2. were do u go to get the itunes code my little girl is upset she cant but her movies on her ipod

  2. You get one chance to rollout a service like this, especially when it’s already positioned against a giant like iTunes. So I pretty much say Ultravoilet is dead already.

    Which then leaves people in the same old situation of what happens to my purchase, if the service is closed?

  3. Flixster hands out iTunes codes for unhappy UltraViolet users http://t.co/6OCs1ut1

  4. Flixster hands out iTunes codes to unhappy UltraViolet users — Online Video News http://t.co/Pi77Lmow

  5. Plinkers (R. DROSNE) Friday, November 18, 2011

    RT @gip89: Flixster hands out iTunes codes to unhappy UltraViolet users — Online Video News http://t.co/Pi77Lmow

  6. Newsflash: UltraViolet users pissed. Are we surprised yet another attempt at DRM has shitty user experience? http://t.co/igUqScaC

  7. Josh Stevenson Friday, November 18, 2011

    @maccast complain loud enough and you’ll get an iTunes copy http://t.co/yUu7arhM

  8. Brian Knighten Friday, November 18, 2011

    This Ultraviolet, Flixter thing is bullshit! I can’t play one digital copy I have purchased! I am sick of spending my hard earned money on things, and I can’t even use them! I have the Green Lantern movie on an account and now I can’t even get the account come up on my phone, & when it would come up I couldn’t even play it! Tell me what good it is? I now have the new Harry Potter, & I can’t even redeem it!

  9. Quoc-Huy Nguyen Dinh Saturday, November 19, 2011

    How bad is that? UltraViolet, supposed to compete with iTunes, has to give iTunes coupon to angry clients! http://t.co/WnjB4fav

  10. I submitted an email through the support link above and got an iTunes code in less than five minutes. A few points: The movie list is approximately 8 movies. Why did they bother doing this if they are starting with such a limited library. That’s stupid. I understand the drive, they’re trying to get back the 30% cut that apple is taking, but sorry, the store/ecosystem war is over. The only other contenders are amazon and netflix. Finally, thanks to the flixster folks for getting me an iTunes redemption. I’d still be pissed off about it, if not for that. The weird thing is that the last movie allowed a direct iTunes redemption and they pulled this switch on the last movie? For a new series maybe, but not the last in an 8 series movie… *sigh*

  11. RadioactiveGiant Monday, November 21, 2011

    Flixster hands out iTunes codes to unhappy UltraViolet users http://t.co/cI13hBk2 | RadioactiveGiant

  12. @Starkenator @windowsphone @flixster You mean this UltraViolet support?: http://t.co/mOtNe0iN

  13. http://t.co/tw173rkj Flixster hands out iTunes codes to unhappy UltraViolet users

  14. Mauvais départ pour #Ultraviolet Digital Copy et Flixster http://t.co/vd6IKEV7 #in

  15. Not only does this Ultraviolet concept reek, when I went to register a complaint, the system told me that my @me.com address was not valid. It’s almost like they declared war on the maker of the most prolific devices.

  16. Lionel Bringuier Friday, November 25, 2011

    Flixster & unhappy UltraViolet users, a difficult start for UVVU — http://t.co/gobXIqEq

  17. Nicholas Toone Friday, November 25, 2011

    @sloot interesting yes. But Ultraviolet is turning out to suck bad. I think the same would happen with CDs.


  18. Problem with the current digital copy was it wouldn’t work with android since drm doesn’t work with it. And since itunes is crap and wont allow u to put the itunes on a android device your stuck. I have harry potter part 2 on ultraviolet and i dont have any problems at all. This is the answer ive been looking for. If they have a marketplace for movies i’ll buy digital copies. Nice to know a company cares about the consumer. I would push for all the movie studios to man up and force itunes to play ball. Thats my opinion

    1. You do realize that it’s the studios that won’t “play ball” on the whole DRM thing, right? It’s the same fight Apple had with the record labels for years before they were allowed to drop DRM from music.

    2. Traditional digital copies worked in iTunes AND Windows Media Player (code only works once, so choose). The WMP copy was originally for the Zune, but *might* work for your Android.

  19. Flixster hands out iTunes codes to unhappy UltraViolet users http://t.co/GMntLc6v

  20. Christopher Whitmore Monday, December 5, 2011

    Wow. This whole #ultraviolet thing just keeps going from bad to worse! http://t.co/g2W9CpA1 #in

  21. A new digital media / DRM format backed by a media industry consortium. What could possibly go wrong? http://t.co/nlZnbyAH

  22. RT @AgentWhitmore: Wow. This whole #ultraviolet thing just keeps going from bad to worse! http://t.co/g2W9CpA1 #in

  23. UltraVioletjust plain out SUCKS… had a hard time with Green Lantern and just bought The Hangover 2 and cannot redeem my digital copy code because my account is not activated??? Went through all the steps again and still nothing… this frickin’ stinks!!!

  24. #UV will become 2012 #myspace | Flixster hands out iTunes codes to unhappy #UltraViolet users http://t.co/VvCCXbKy @FlixsterUVHelp #Fail

  25. To WB, Ultraviolet & Flixter. I’ve been reading about all of the negative posts & blogs on the fact that the digital copy doesn’t work on iTunes. I downloaded Flixter and after 7 attempts to download the movie over a two day period I was deeply disappointed that my digital copy was useless. I have made three attempts to contact someone in WB, Ultraviolet & Flixter and still I haven’t heard back from anyone. Can someone please get back to me with a redemption code that I can use on iTunes?

  26. @kreshjun Read this…another bad sign: Flixster hands out iTunes codes to unhappy #UltraViolet users http://t.co/VvCCXbKy

  27. @homestar14 Demand #iTunes DC code. Flixster hands out iTunes codes to unhappy UltraViolet users http://t.co/VvCCXbKy @FlixsterUVHelp #FAIL

  28. I want a coupon for Green lantern

  29. @jeffreycarr Did you see this article on UltraViolet last month? http://t.co/CmwKMuxA
    I think UV is the answer to a question nobody asked.

  30. I complained, politely, and received a code after giving the customer support people my original redemption code. Ultraviolet and Flixster are poorly designed crappy programs, it took over an hour just to deal with my “yr account hasn’t been verified” b.s. But thru all the annoyances the customer support was helpful and quick to answer my issues… at least

  31. how do we stop this new stupidity? we have iTunes. it works. digital copies work (even for pc’s)
    normally i buy the blu-ray/dvd/digital copy combo pack so that I can watch the blu-ray and so I don’t have to spend the time to rip a dvd into iTunes format.
    Lack of at least a blu-ray/dvd combo pack has been a deal breaker in some cases. I don’t want to be stuck with a blu-ray disc that I can only watch at home and I don’t want to be stuck with a dvd version that under utilizes my home theater.
    That said if I really had to choose one format, 90% of the time I would go with the dvd because it is cheaper AND because I can make my own iTunes version to watch on my mobile players if I want to.
    the hassles of this new studio scheme to control our access to the movies we have already purchased will drive me to boycott the combo packs and go back to simply purchasing the DVD. I hope they realize that they will make less money (at least from me) and stop this silliness.
    I guess some might like the streaming option but frankly if I am at home for $99 and appleTV I can stream the entire contents of iTunes library and if I am not at home I would only be able to effectively stream if I had a good internet connection. Considering that mobile media player memory capacities are growing rapidly and that most come in versions that are already able to hold days of movies why do you really need streaming at all. you don’t, but the studios do benefit from it. this lets them know who is watching their content and when and how often.
    To add insult to this recent ultraviolet scheme, the digital copy “download” option included in the package is via the net and not even from the disc. Now something that use to take 2 to 5 minutes takes more than an hour which at least gives one plenty of time to rant about ultraviolet.
    Is streaming really worth the hassle of signing up for yet another stupid website and putting yourself in the crosshairs of more associated spam. I don’t think so. I say send the studios a message and boycott this silliness.

    1. I have been emailing “customer support” for three hours and they want me to jump through all these crazy hoops and they are still won’t give me a coupn for an itunes version!! I’m beyond mad and will boycott flixster from here on out!

  32. Got my itunes coupon with 4 minutes of a complaint being filed on their website! Great customer Service! Thanks!

    1. I have been emailing and emailing and they won’t reply! what did you say in your complaint to make them reply so fast?

  33. Linwood Bullock Sunday, December 25, 2011

    I have been trying to put in these so called codes that you put in the new movies and none of the codes seem to work or your sent to multi pagess and just a run around. I find them worthless. Stop with the madeness and just my it less painless for us to download from those websites of yours.

  34. Please die soon Ultraviolet–I’ve had 1 1/2 experiences. The first was horrible bosses — UV blows donkey…just let me dowload from itunes – -or heck – – just let me dowload from flixster withouth having to force into UV then redeem and dowload.

    Second experience – locked out of UV and was never prompted when setting up for security for password reset – and of course there is no “email me password reset option”. WB srewed it on this one – – I hope others continue to slam it and it goes away quickly!!!!!

  35. Well, we have contacted them numerous times regarding iTunes codes for several movies and have heard nothing. So now what?

  36. Compatibility with Roku or appletv

  37. I like the ultraviolet alternative format. The best part about ultraviolet is you can download the flixster app and Stream straight to your device without taking upp storage space!! I have apple tv but i personally don’t like the digital copies since their not in hi-def anyways. I hope ultraviolet can stick around for a while.

  38. Please see this comments and only one say is worked correctly only one, that says it works but the truth or reality is that ultraviolet makes good sense to run but is not working correctly. I just buying Harry Potter 7 part 2 and I only see it through internet if you one to download to your PC via flisxter app to your PC ups sorry the format the give to you don’t work nor by you pc. only for via internet haaa make a good work for (Ultraviolet) because the point is… to work on different devices..

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