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Video Vet Heads Kiosk Company

28 Oct, 2005 By: Holly J. Wagner

Richard B. Cohen

A former MGM home entertainment executive known for opening alternative distribution channels has taken the reins at Houston-based TNR Entertainment Corp., the owner-operator of DVD rental kiosks in major grocery stores in five states.

Richard B. Cohen, who once was president of consumer products at MGM, is CEO of TNR. The company operates 240 DVD vending machines under the name The New Release at grocers including Kroger, Safeway, HEB and Publix in Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Wisconsin and Colorado.

“It draws upon a lot of things I've done, but it's a different business model,” said Cohen, no stranger to putting video products in grocery channels. “The New Release business is a truly unique opportunity for me with all the right market conditions. Distribution of entertainment product is undergoing major shifts, and The New Release offers an innovative and effective means to reach a broad consumer base with a very viable and competitive solution.”

The privately held company claims to serve more than 100,000 customers monthly. The New Release kiosks contain approximately 200 top movie titles and store a total of 400 to 1,000-plus DVDs, in a store footprint as small as 7 square feet. The company offers DVD rentals priced from 50 cents a day for older catalog titles to $1.50 a day for new releases, with no late fees or penalties. After charges mount for 14 days, the disc is considered sold and the charges stop, Cohen said.

McDonald's, which has Redbox kiosks in its restaurants in some markets that overlap TNR's, such as Houston and Denver, charges $1 per day for rentals. If a disc is not returned after 25 days, charges cease and the renter becomes the owner. The same terms apply at the 24 grocery stores with Redboxes.

Movie Gallery has been testing supermarket-based kiosks in about 25 stores and plans a wider rollout some time next year, an executive said.

For now, Cohen is traveling between Houston and Los Angeles for business, he said, but, “There is a good chance we will move the headquarters operations to L.A. within a year to ramp this company up in a way that I think we can do. A lot of the relevant talent is at the studios.”

Cohen's industry experience includes serving as president of the home entertainment and consumer products division of MGM for seven years. Prior to MGM, Cohen worked for Walt Disney Studios in various positions.

TNR is backed by institutional investors led by Celerity Partners.

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