Disney Launches Digital Copy Plus—But Where’s the Plus?

Jun 12, 2013 by

Last week, the entertainment press and trade jumped on the news that Disney was “Eliminating” Digital Copy for a better model that gave customers more freedom and flexibility. Oh how amazing it must be since, after all, Disney has been the one major studio hold-out on UltraViolet. They must be conjuring something wonderful from Yensid’s cauldron, right?

Wrong. Digital Copy Plus is different from Digital Copy, but not significantly, and for the most part, not in a good way.

Disney debuted Digital Copy Plus with the Oz: The Great and Powerful release. So how is it different? Let’s add up the plusses and minuses:

You don’t need to insert a disc to redeem Digital Copy Plus. This is nice, but it’s hardly a plus, since many studios had already moved from the model of including a digital copy on the packaged media and simply allow you to download a copy from iTunes.

You can redeem your “Magic Code” [ugh] on a mobile device. Arguably, this is a plus since you can then access the video in your chosen mobile format.

You redeem your code at a special web site—not in iTunes. This is a minus, not a plus. Consumers are used to going to one place (or in the case of UltraViolet one of two places) to redeem codes. Disney just added yet another place. Result: confusion. Many consumers will still try to redeem the codes in iTunes.

You can redeem a digital copy at iTunes, Amazon, or VUDU. While this adds flexibility, it’s actually more limited than what some other studios are offering. Paramount and Universal, for example, offer both an iTunes copy and an UltraViolet copy. And choosing a Digital Copy Plus format is like an exercise in hieroglyphics (see below). So plus…minus? This one’s a wash.

This handy chart helps you choose a redemption option.

…and this handy chart is the cypher to decode the first chart.

VUDU titles are not added to your UltraViolet library. Don’t be fooled by the fact that VUDU is one of the redemption options. Not all VUDU titles are created equal. Even if you only use VUDU for UltraViolet, Disney’s VUDU titles are only good in VUDU and will not show up in your UltraViolet library. This ultimately limits the portability of your VUDU titles—for example, you can’t play them offline on your iPad—and the devices on which you can play them. Even if you’re not a huge fan of UltraViolet, this is clearly a minus. If nothing else, it’s confusing since most other VUDU titles are UltraViolet-ready.

So…where’s the plus? Basically there is no plus. It’s more confusing than traditional digital copy, it’s less flexible than UltraViolet, and it’s not on par with what a lot of other studios are offering today. Disney’s new digital service might be more accurately labeled “Digital Copy Minus”—or at least something more honest like “Digital Copy Different” or “Disney Digital Copy” (harkening to Disney’s self-branded Blu-ray and DVD brands). Oh, but they can’t call it that since they’ve somehow also roped Dreamworks into this approach, too.

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  • i like

    BOOOOOO Disney. get on the UV train. I don’t see how this can be bad for you, since you can still control your movies, but lets customer’s access them at the same place as all their other movies.

  • tls2u

    COMPLETELY SUCKS. We have 3 new movies, one is Disney. The other two my daughter put into VUDU and since they are also UV, we can ALL access these movies on different devices via VUDU or our UV family account. The stupid Disney movie is now only visible on my daughter’s VUDU account, on HER devices only. Everything else we have linked to our UV is perfectly fine wherever we watch… ROKU, computer, etc.. This REALLY ticked me off. I had no idea this would happen as there was no warning at all. If I had known, I would have put it into the main account so it was at least on the family ROKU for everyone to watch. I know we still have the DVD but to me a huge part of using VUDU is being able to keep the DVDs safe and in good condition.