BBC begins UltraViolet streaming access for DVDs

BBC Worldwide is the latest TV and movie distributor to join the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE) consortium, as it looks to beef up its online content sales.

The company will UltraViolet-enable some of its DVDs, meaning customers who buy TV shows on plastic can get access to stream the same shows online.

But BBC Worldwide’s strategy here appears to be experimental. Just four titles will be UV-enabled in time for Christmas — Doctor Who Series 7 Part 1, comedy show Rollercoaster, a Top Gear title and nature title Attenborough: 60 Years In The Wild. More are coming in 2013.

Playback will be served through Time Warner’s Flixster movie site — one of the few services so far to facilitate streaming for buyers of UltraViolet-enabled DVDs.

UltraViolet is the entertainment business’ ploy to grow digital business without cannibalising disc sales on which it depends. Each UltraViolet-enabled disc comes with a code that can be redeemed online, seeing customers “store” that same title in a virtual library for equivalent access through participating streaming services.

The arrangement means BBC Worldwide, which commercialises BBC content outside of its public-service window, must work with partner companies. According to its announcement:

“Details concerning the redemption process will be provided on a leaflet, designed in collaboration with other participating studios, which will be in the DVD case.  Post-launch, users will be able to visit a BBC Worldwide site for further information after which they will be automatically transferred to the relevant Flixster location.”

BBC Worldwide, which sells DVDs through its own site but relies on syndication to third parties for digital video revenue, wants to start selling more of its own stuff through its own digital properties.

Ultimately, it may consider building its own online subscription locker.