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Why Veronica Mars embraced UltraViolet and angered fans

By Moisés Chiullan | March 17, 2014
The campaign to revive Veronica Mars delivered a number of cool things--an enormous number of new Kickstarter users and, lest we forget, a full-length motion picture of a deeply loved TV series that arrived Friday. But the movie's arrival introduced something else to Veronica Mars fans: their first interaction with the UltraViolet video locker service, the method the movie's distributors are using to fulfill the downloads promised to people who backed the movie on Kickstarter. It's been ugly, to say the least.

Kickstarter's founders defended the Veronica Mars campaign (and Zach Braff's similar movie-funding campaign) chiefly by pointing to the 63 percent of new Kickstarter users who funded the two campaigns. So far as I can tell, more than 60,000 Veronica Mars Kickstarter backers are now dealing with UltraViolet redemption as their means to get their first look at the movie that they made happen with their wallets. This is occurring simultaneous to Kickstarter advertising the movie as being "now available on iTunes" on its website. Hmm, I wonder why they don't promote availability on UltraViolet/Flixster/Vudu/etc.?

Then there's this so-called "global" UltraViolet distribution. Backers were promised the movie in HD, but UK users apparently only have that option via the Flixster iOS app. Unlike U.S. users, they don't have the option of redeeming through another more user-friendly, U.S.-based UltraViolet service like Vudu. None of the UltraViolet apps are available for Xbox in the UK, either.

I have a great deal of admiration for Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara, especially with respect to his spearheading programs like the Warner Archive Collection (and its outstanding streaming service). Warner Bros. is truly changing the way that it does some of its business. The implementation of UltraViolet as an answer to iTunes, however, has shown itself to be a colossal failure over the last two years. It has been in need of a page-one rewrite for as long as the service has existed, and this is its highest-profile flop yet.


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