The last time Redbox tried online video in earnest it… didn’t go so well. The company’s Redbox Instant was effectively trying to challenge Netflix head-on, which seemed foolhardy even in 2013. After lots of teasing, though, it’s ready for a comeback. It’s launching a Redbox On Demand service that offers movies and TV shows (notably, including new releases) for purchase or rent — it’s steering clear of subscriptions this time. You can stream videos or download them for offline viewing, and it’s available across a wide range of devices from the word “go.” You can watch wherever you are with Android or iOS, while living room viewers can use Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku boxes or smart TVs from LG and Samsung.
Rentals start at $4 for a 48-hour period, while you’re looking at spending $10 or more for a purchase.
Redbox is wagering that this model plays into its existing strengths. If you’re already used to renting movies from its kiosks, it’s not a big stretch to rent online when you’d rather stay home. And since it already has deals to get new releases, it’s guaranteed to have titles that may take months to arrive on services like Amazon Prime Video and Netflix, if they ever do.
It’s not going to be a cakewalk, mind you. There’s still plenty of competition in this space, such as Apple’s iTunes, Google Play Movies and Walmart’s Vudu. And unlike Redbox’s kiosks, there aren’t really price advantages. Redbox is mainly banking on its name and physical presence to earn your business. Not that it necessarily need a runaway hit, mind you. On Demand can serve as more of a complement to Redbox’s discs, and could help it transition to digital if its kiosks become untenable.