Disney Movies Anywhere adds Google Play and Vudu

When Disney Movies Anywhere launched last March, it connected to Disney Movie Rewards and unlocked streaming copies of any movies users registered that came with digital copies. But the big selling point that excited a lot of fans was the ability to connect it to iTunes. Once connected, future purchases of eligible Disney titles on iTunes would unlock streaming copies on DMA and earn points on DMR. It was a win for iTunes users, but consumers that pledged allegiance to other digital media providers felt excluded.

Current users can immediately add Google Play and Vudu to their existing Disney Movies Anywhere accounts. To do this, you just need to go to settings and link your accounts.

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When you do this, Disney gives you a free copy of Wreck-It-Ralph, which you can stream on DMA, Google Plus or Vudu and can download in HD to your linked iTunes account (users just now signing up have missed the chance to unlock The Incredibles for free).

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I have a lot of titles in my DMA library (84) and I kept refreshing my Google Plus library to watch them all appear. It took about 2 minutes to complete. My Vudu collection, however, appeared instantly. My collection is a mix of digital copies from Blu-Ray combo packs and items I purchased from iTunes. All of my movies ported over (Hocus Pocus, for example, was an iTunes purchase. I need to have this movie everywhere I go… don’t judge me).



While browsing Google Play, which I hadn’t explored before today, I noticed that they are really proud to now be part of DMA. The front page of their movie store has a big ad for it with a link to download the app on Android devices. I clicked the link and glanced at the titles and quickly noticed that whoever selected them isn’t super duper familiar with the content on DMA. Tangled Ever After is listed in this section, but shorts are not linked through DMA as of the time of this posting (I wish they were, along with TV content). Vudu has rebranded their Disney section as “Disney Movies Anywhere” and some titles say “Disney Movies Anywhere” at the bottom of the cover art. Vudu’s DMA store also has a section for shorts. Again, DMA doesn’t include shorts…

At first glance, the prices on Google Play seemed like a dream come true. I did a quick search for some Disney titles (not all results were actually Disney movies) and noticed many of them were $9.99. I got excited thinking I could get some better deals than on iTunes, where the typical Disney film is $17.99 for HD. I was disappointed to see that Google Play lists the lowest price (SD) and the HD content is the same price (Vudu also appears to have the same prices). I decided to test this with one of my favorite films, The Parent Trap, which is not available on Blu-Ray. Not willing to risk $17.99 not working correctly, I purchased it on iTunes, watched it link to DMA, and then saw it appear in Google Play and Vudu.

The iTunes download is in HD and looks amazing. The Vudu copy is their higher(?) definition HDX. DMA only offers content in SD, which I expected. However I was a little surprised to see my Google Play copy also appear to be SD. Google Play doesn’t tell you the resolution of the video you are watching, but the stream appeared nearly identical to the DMA stream and looked less clear than the iTunes version (I have very fast wifi, by the way). My assumption is that content from DMA feeds to Google Play in SD, but so far all of my linked items from DMA to iTunes and Vudu have unlock HD copies. I’m not willing to spend another $17.99 on a different title to prove this theory. iTunes is still my preferred digital content provider and I plan to make most of my digital movie purchases through it.

For Google Play users, the biggest benefit of using DMA is having a better digital storefront to shop for Disney titles. Google Play doesn’t offer a Disney section the way iTunes, Amazon and Vudu do, making DMA the preferable way to shop for Disney titles you intend to buy digitally. However, if you’re a Google Play user, you are most likely also an android user. You can already stream the Disney movies you bought through Google Play, offering little reason to stream movies on DMA. The added value comes from the ability to download titles to your device for use without wifi (ex: on an airplane or driving in a car) and the ability to watch streaming bonus features on select titles (none of my unlocked titles have bonus features in Google Play or Vudu the way they do in iTunes).

I’ve used DMA more than I thought I would since it came out. Because the downloads are SD, I can load more movies on my iPad when I go on trips. I almost never need to use it at home, though, and I expect the same will hold true for most users who prefer Google Play or Vudu. If you buy movies digitally, even occasionally, you probably own a device that connects to your TV to watch them. As an iTunes user, I have an Apple TV and can stream movies I’ve purchased in HD to my TV. Google Play users most likely have a Chromecast, the only device capable of streaming Google Play content to a TV. Vudu is offered on a myriad of devices, including Chromecast, Play Station 3, X-Box 360, Roku, and through apps on all major phones and tablets (you can download Vudu movies in SD through the app). The real added value for Vudu users is the ability to earn DMR points.

The final thing that makes the Vudu integration super exciting for me, and other fans of 3D at home, is…

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Vudu has 3D!… Granted, it’s streaming HD meaning the quality can decrease if your internet connection fluctuates. Having 3D films on Blu-Ray is still preferable to streaming an HD film that is twice the size of its 2D counterpart. But since Disney seems to have quit releasing non-Marvel titles in 3D on disc media, this is a nice addition. 3D titles are expensive ($34.99), but now that I can make 1 digital purchase and get the films in iTunes as well, I’m more likely to purchase 3D titles on Vudu in the future. Recent films made in 3D that didn’t get a 3D Blu-Ray release like Frozen, Maleficent, The Pirate Fairy, and Planes Fire & Rescue are all available in 3D on Vudu.

I’m curious to see what the future holds for DMA. Disney has conquered most of the major digital platforms, the only leading one remaining is Amazon Instant Video. We could also see integration with some of the smaller players, like Target Ticket, PlayStation Store and Xbox Video in the future. Some digital retailers may be reluctant to get on board, but it could make users more likely to buy movies digitally knowing they can get it across multiple platforms. One of my biggest concerns with paying for streaming rights ownership is the ability for the service provider or studio to revoke that access in the future, but having access through more platforms helps insure that at least one of those scenarios will be less likely.

Alex Reif
Alex joined the Laughing Place team in 2014 and has been a lifelong Disney fan. His main beats for LP are Disney-branded movies, TV shows, books, music and toys. He recently became a member of the Television Critics Association (TCA).