In 2014, Disney debuted its digital extension, Disney Movies Anywhere, which allowed users to bridge the ecosystem divide for movie downloads. If you bought, say, The Lion King on iTunes and Aladdin on Google Play Movies, DMA gave you access to both those movies on either platform — as well as on Amazon and Vudu.
Now, Disney has finalized agreements with four of the other major studios — Fox, Sony Pictures, Universal, and Warner Bros. — to expand the feature into a near all-encompassing service, aptly called Movies Anywhere. The only major holdout appears to be Paramount Pictures, which distributes popular flicks like Mission Impossible and Transformers.
Available on both Android and iOS or through a dedicated web portal, Movies Anywhere allows users to sign into their Google Play, iTunes, Amazon, or Vudu accounts and, like DMA, gain access to all their movies ... anywhere.
It's a service that our own Ara Wagoner has grown to love, since Disney, which developed the technology, works with the individual platform providers to facilitate the rights management. That means movies aren't sequestered to the Movies Anywhere app, but can be viewed in Google Play Movies like any other purchase. The other studios initially supported a competing technology, Ultraviolet, which was extremely user-unfriendly and garnered little mainstream use.
It won't stem the growth of Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime Video, but it's a consumer-friendly move in an industry that doesn't always put its customers first.
The unifying move is certainly an attempt to make buying movies a lot more enticing in the world of Netflix, Hulu and other streaming services, but it also solves a major problem with platform lock-in. Anyone who's moved from an iPhone to Android likely had the realization that their iTunes music, movies, and TV shows didn't come with them. Movies Anywhere doesn't solve every problem, and not every studio is on board, but it does bring us closer than ever to platform agnosticism.
To incent people to sign up for Movies Anywhere, which is free, the service is offering five free movies when you link two or more accounts:
- Big Hero 6
- Ghostbusters (2016)
- Ice Age
- Jason Bourne (2016)
- The Lego Movie
At launch, Movies Anywhere is only available in the U.S., but the companies are working on bringing it to other markets.
Are you interested in signing up for Movies Anywhere? Let us know in the comments below!