In late 2014 at IFA in Berlin, Samsung and 20th Century Fox made a bold announcement: Using technology from the Secure Content Storage Association (SCSA) platform (now known as Vidity), future Blu-ray Disc players would be capable of transporting premium digital entertainment content — including 4K content — across all devices, including mobile.
More than two years later, it looks like that promise is going to be fulfilled.
Samsung Dec. 28 revealed that it will debut a new Ultra High-Def (UHD) Blu-ray player — the M9500 — at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show. And while details are slim, with no pricing or street date, the last paragraph of the announcement hinted at what could be a revolutionary change in Hollywood’s physical disc business: “Further additions to the UHD Blu-ray player in 2017 include improved mobile integration, giving users the flexibility to enjoy their favorite Blu-ray titles on their mobile device.”
Built into the Blu-ray Disc specification is a Managed Copy feature — overseen by the Advanced Access Content System (AACS) consortium — that’s never been utilized in any Blu-ray release. The concept allows for Blu-ray owners to make DRM-protected, legal copies of content they purchased, via authentication from a remote server, with studios given the option to charge for the service.
Instead, since Blu-ray was first released in the U.S. in mid-2006, the studios have included digital versions of films with physical discs, first via Digital Copy, and now via UltraViolet and Disney Movies Anywhere.
Samsung’s promise with its new player would add a new layer to Hollywood’s digital offerings, opening up a “digital bridge” between physical content and digital playback, as Mike Dunn, president of product strategy and consumer business development for 20th Century Fox, said in late 2014.
“Consumer electronics, Hollywood studios and — most importantly — consumers will benefit from our work to deliver an entertainment experience fit for today's digital lifestyle,” Dunn said. “The consumer demand for high-quality premium content continues to increase and evolve. We focus on making the experience richer and more immersive. We want our audience to love the movie and love the experience of watching it.”
Michael Zoeller, then Samsung's European senior director of sales and marketing, said at the time: “We will provide consumers with the highest quality content from Hollywood studios through a download service. It’s very exciting to show that we’re forging a clear path for UHD.”
Samsung’s M9500 UHD Blu-ray player will include Bluetooth wireless streaming support, will handle high dynamic range (HDR) content, and will automatically set a TV screen and audio to an optimal level for content, by analyzing the content source.
But it’s the digital delivery details everyone will be looking out for come the first week of January.