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Disney expands Movies Anywhere to ... everywhere

In the era of digital streaming, where subscription services such as Netflix are replacing DVD sales, Disney's expanding its service to entice people to buy digital movies,

Disney Movies Anywhere, the cloud-based digital movie service the company launched last year, is adding more partners and devices, including expanding to Amazon Video and Microsoft Movies & TV. Users will be able to buy a digital movie once - from pretty much any digital retailer - and be able to access it on any device, through any service, via the cloud.

Coinciding with the digital launch of Marvel's "Avengers: Age of Ultron" on Tuesday, Disney Movies Anywhere will launch its partnerships with Amazon and Microsoft. (The service is already available on iTunes for all iOS devices, Google Play for Android Devices, and Walmart's VUDU.)

In a week, free Disney Movie Everywhere Apps will launch for Roku and Android TV, which Disney says will make the service available to more than 90 percent of the digital retail market. To promote the partnership expansion, Disney Movies Anywhere is offering a free digital copy of Pixar's "Monster's Inc."

Disney is uniquely positioned to sell its films, rather than rent them, because children are more likely to watch films over and over. And Disney has been cautious about how it's offered streaming video - it has a deal with Netflix, but this doesn't kick off until Disney's 2016 feature films run. Disney's home entertainment sales have held up better than the rest of the industry's, thanks to that appeal to parents and the success of massive, must-own hits such as "Frozen."

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The DVD market was once a huge money-maker for all the Hollywood studios but digital sales of films failed to supplant that revenue, in large part because it was so hard for consumers to access films on multiple devices after purchasing them, making digital rentals a much more practical proposition.

Plus, when a wide range of movies can be instantly streamed from Netflix without 'owning' anything, it takes a very particular kind of name-brand content, such Marvel's superheroes or the Star Wars epics, to convince people it's worth buying. Disney has that kind of content and it's now trying to show people it can offer the convenience of being able to access a film on any device, in order to make digital purchases worthwhile.

And a very different proposition than what was on offer before.