Best Buy Archives Your DVDs To The Cloud

Dave Zatz —  December 23, 2012


Best Buy subsidiary CinemaNow has opened the doors to their disc-to-digital program. Much like Walmart’s competing Vudu offering, BBY’s Ultraviolet service validates ownership of a Blu-ray or DVD and, for a few bucks, will “copy” it to your account for later playback. However, unlike Vudu which requires a trip to Walmart, CinemaNow is self service – via your home computer. And, as you can see above, I paid $2 to archive my 12 Monkey’s DVD to the cloud.

I’m only aware of CinemaNow software clients for Mac and Windows, but as an Ultraviolet partner, there’s a high probability you’ll find your newly archived titles available for playback via Vudu  iPhone, iPad, Android, and Roku apps. Sure enough, 12 monkeys was waiting for me there. 

Presumably, one can also “copy” Netflix or Redbox rentals via this service… and either the stakeholders don’t mind as they stand to make a little money from each transaction or they figure the small amount abuse by those in the know would be insignificant to their bottom line. Maybe both. But, like all DRM schemes, this one is limited to licensed titles and if it’s ever retired, poof, there go your movies. Yet given the broad industry support, perhaps Ultraviolet will linger and I don’t mind paying a few bucks to make my content nearly universally available.

27 responses to Best Buy Archives Your DVDs To The Cloud

  1. I hate these locked down ‘services’.. Reminds me of MS’s ‘Plays Anywhere’ deal with music (amongst other services that have since died).

    Where does it play now? Nowhere.

    If only they’d just let me download DRM-free moves from Amazon, iTunes, etc., I’d be happy. I’m not interested in pirating. I like to pay people for the work they do. I buy my mp3s and would do the same with DRM-free movies if only they’d get on board and stop playing the stupid game.

  2. I bet you could do this with the redbox disc’s that are full retail, but those special rental discs are probably off limits. I’ll have to give it a try this week.

  3. Brad, yeah that’s the gamble. But given how many have signed on to Ultraviolet and new discs that come with a digital copy, perhaps this service will better stand the test of time? We shall see…

    xdreamwalker, good point – didn’t think of it in those terms and who knows how they fingerprint the media. I was going to attempt a trial but grew tired struggling to cross reference Redbox’s library with CinemaNow’s list of licensees. Then again, I was on a smartphone – it’d probably be a whole lot less tedious on a real screen.

    Interestingly, Best Buy acquired the name CinemaNow in 2010 from Sonic Solution, owner of Roxio that was later sold to Corel. However, my credit card statement lists Roxio… not Best Buy, CinemaNow, SonicSolutions of Rovi. So something hasn’t been updated and I wonder if Best Buy is sharing my credit card info with Rovi. Hm. If there was fine script, I surely skipped it.

  4. “Hm. If there was fine script, I surely skipped it.”

    You need to read that EULA more carefully. Section 3.18 clearly spells out that every time another customer archives 12 Monkeys to Ultraviolet via CinemaNow, you will be billed for a retail copy of Toast Titanium…

  5. The biggest negative to UV is that the data is in the cloud. Given that most ISPs and wireless providers have instituted caps, it’s just more profit for them as you generate overage charges.

  6. Yep, data usage and caps could be a consideration. Fortunately, I’m unlimited on Verizon FiOS (for the time being?) and I’ve yet to run into hotel WiFi bandwidth limits… although their connections aren’t always the greatest. My gym has WiFi, except the connection is nearly non-existent near the ellipticals. My plan had been to stream Boardwalk Empire via HBOGO, but 4G may be my only option and I would indeed crush my cap. Hm.

  7. UV titles can be downloaded for playback later.

    When UV was first announced I was pretty set against it as it wasn’t really supported. I’ve been liking it more though since more companies are jumping on board and providing UV codes. This gives a true HD digital copy, unlike iTunes copied which are almost always SD.

    Speaking of iTunes, Apple, Amazon and Disney don’t back UV and probably never will. That’s the major downside as there are multiple “clouds” out there. As long as UV works on all devices, I guess it’s not a big deal. On my iPad, I can watch iTunes purchases natively, Amazon purchases with Amazon’s video player and UV purchases with Flickster. On my PS3 I can watch Amazon and UV (Vudu), but no iTunes. So I actually prefer UV digital copes to iTunes.

  8. So, can any of the digital lockers like Dropbox, Amazon Cloud, etc. stream something like a MP4 file?

  9. I didn’t realize that CinemaNow also has a PS3 and iOS app. When I installed them all my UV titles showed up. So I can play them in Vudu, CinemaNow and Flixster.

    Buy a title in one of them and they work in any of them. I guess it’s a benefit for these small guys to support UV. Amazon and Apple likely see no need.

  10. Bill, no Ultraviolet titles are managed via an Ultraviolet service – like Vudu or Flixster. You may be able to download in some situations, but again the transfer and playback is handled by one of the partners.

    Morac, didn’t know CinemaNow had an iOS app either. Hm. Vudu’s is pretty bad, so I’ll probably take a look.

    I do agree that it’s unlikely Apple would ever partake. Amazon could. But you’re right – what’s their motivation? I also thought TiVo or Roku could offer flicks directly and tie into the UV ecosystem. But maybe that’s just wishful thinking.

  11. “I also thought TiVo or Roku could offer flicks directly and tie into the UV ecosystem. But maybe that’s just wishful thinking.”

    I’m of the opinion that the whole UV game here is to not make the process too easy for the consumer…

  12. Part of it would be ease for the consumer… but part of it would also be revenue for TiVo/Roku if they could offer their own videos. White label someone else’s service if need be. Then again, if you buy your Amazon videos via TiVo they get a cut. At least that was the original dealio – not sure if it’s still in play.

  13. Turns out the CinemaNow iOS app only streams SD. That leaves Flixster as the go to iOS app.

    On the PS3 either Vudu or CinemaNow works well and supports HD.

    Also apparently Amazon is in the UV alliance, though only partnered with WB. Also apparently in name only since purchases made in Amazon’s video store aren’t added to UV. If Amazon even does fully support UV, that would give it some major clout as there would be two camps: UV and Apple/Disney.

  14. TiVo did have CinemaNow until Best Buy pulled support. I guess there’s always the possibility of getting Vudu or something.

    Roku already has Vudu, but only on their newer models.

  15. I tried this out the other day. I never got around to using D2D at Walmart for any of my titles. But with this I can do it from home and still watch them from Vudu. Which is really the only app I plan on using to watch my content. Hopefully Vudu starts to offer a similar service since they have more titles available for D2D.

  16. Dave, I did try to use a Watchmen DVD I purchased from Redbox some time ago. The disc looks like it is a retail and not a rental. It told me “This disc is not available for Disc To Digital conversion. Please try another disc.” I did check their list and Watchmen is on there.

    Funny thing about that list though, it is only a pdf that they are hosting with Dropbox.

  17. Looking forward to trying this service since the Walmart process is a total failure. Was attempting to try the service out when 2 Walmarts could not get their “systems” working and the third could not pull up my account. I gave up after that. Wasted too much gas and time. Self service is the way to go.

  18. Well, I was really talking about ripping my dvds to mp4 (or mkv) and uploading them to some lockbox to stream later.

    right now i rip them to mkv & drop them onto a usb drive to play on my blu-ray player

  19. Hm, you could probably accomplish that your own cloud streaming. However, it’s not going to have the fault tolerance of a service designed for those conditions and presumably regional access points in addition to buffering and adjusting on the fly.

  20. “Hm, you could probably accomplish that your own cloud streaming.”

    Plex, Plex, Plex…

    Just spray a little on any problem you’ve got.

  21. I don’t think I’ll be using CinemaNow very often. I finally found a DVD that would work, The Polar Express, and paid the $5 for HD, but the Ultraviolet copy on Vudu is only SD even though CinemaNow has it available in HD.

  22. Does CinemaNow give you the $2 option for owned Blu-Ray like Wal-Mart / Vudu does or is it only able to read DVD and upsell to HD?

  23. Yeah, pricing looks the same although the catalog might be somewhat different. My iMac doesn’t have a Blu-ray drive though, so I couldn’t test. Wonder if my wife’s laptop does.

  24. How long does it take to upload a DVD or Bluray? Are they really going to store multiple copies of the same movie for different users? It seems like it wouldn’t be practical for customers with band width caps. They need to have the movies preloaded and then just verify the customer has has the disc.

  25. Nothing is actually uploaded. The software basically fingerprints your disc and then provides access their digital cloud copy.

  26. Has anyone successfully used a Blu-Ray with this service? I tried both Elf and Blade Runner, which are on the list, and both said This disc is not available for this program

  27. Good plan but the CinemaNow D2D service is a failure (at least for now). I tried 5 different DVDs (I own them, not rentals), all are on the list as eligible, all failed. Same error, This idisc is not eligible, please refer to the list. Funny thing is that the Harry Potter disc (#5) it rejected is the same one in the image of their service. At least the VUDU Wal-mart works every time. I have converted 10 discs to UV this way. It is another layer of convenience, especially for tablets.