Redbox Instant Launches to Public14 Mar, 2013 By: Chris Tribbey
Redbox Instant by Verizon opened for business March 14, offering a new digital streaming, rental and download-to-own service to compete with Netflix, Amazon and others.
The service offers electronic sellthrough and transactional VOD options for new releases on street date from NBC Universal, Paramount, Lionsgate, Relativity and Sony Pictures. An $8-a-month subscription pairs four DVD rentals at Redbox kiosks with unlimited streaming of content from Warner, Lionsgate, MGM and Paramount. Another $1 a month upgrades the rentals to Blu-ray Discs.
“We are open for business and all systems go,” said Redbox Instant CEO Shawn Strickland. “We had hundreds of thousands of people raise their hands to get into the beta [trial], which was astounding. We had all sorts of game plans for how we could stimulate 30,000 to 50,000 customers, so that was a testament to the strength of the Redbox brand.”
Redbox Instant is aiming to capitalize on the customers who rent 62 million-plus DVDs each month at its 42,000-plus kiosks by offering a streaming-centric online service that’s easy to use, Strickland said. At launch there are less than 5,000 streaming titles available, far fewer than either Netflix or Amazon; however, Strickland said Redbox Instant should add another 1,000-plus titles for the service soon.
At launch, the streaming application is available on the Xbox 360, Apple devices, Samsung Blu-ray Disc players and other connected consumer electronics, and via web browsers.
The service will be marketed heavily to both Redbox and Verizon customers, and support on devices from LG Electronics, Google TV and Vizio is expected “in the coming weeks,” Strickland said.
“We hope to have some more news about additional relationships [soon],” he said. “That is obviously one of our top priorities here.”
Closed captioning support was one of the last hurdles Redbox Instant had to address before the service came to market, Strickland said. He added that Redbox found several challenges to overcome during the beta launch, including the influx of more users than expected and support problems with some mobile devices.
“As they say, life is like a box of chocolates. Every day we find the next challenge to tackle,” Strickland said.
Redbox Instant is targeting mid-summer for the launch of UltraViolet support with some Warner sellthrough titles, and is working with its other studio partners to broaden support for the buy-once, play-anywhere cloud content service.
The service launches after encountering several delays, first from summer 2012, then by the end of last year to the a launch by the end of March. Verizon, which is the majority stakeholder in the joint venture, said the delays were due to the need for more internal testing of the service.