Redbox kiosks have their good points and their bad points. On the one hand, you can’t beat renting newish home video releases for just a buck a night. That price beats any of the brick and mortar video stores and any of the VOD services that are baked into people’s home electronics. But, on the other hand, I kind of see them as the multiplex of the home video industry. By putting brick and mortar video stores out of business while offering a much more limited selection, they’re just reinforcing the idea in the moviegoing public’s mind that there are only two or three huge movies out that are worth paying attention to at any given time, indie and art films be damned.
Still, you can’t beat that price, so Redbox’s parent company Coinstar has seen profits grow and their stock prices soar over the past couple of years. And now that things have gone so well, Coinstar is looking to capitalize on that success by making moves to take over the entire home video landscape. Dueling reports on Redbox activity have hit the financial world today, and both could have big impacts on the future of how we watch movies at home.
Perhaps the biggest story is that Redbox and Verizon have announced that they are teaming up on a new video streaming service that looks to take on subscription titan Netflix. Set to launch sometime in the second half of 2012, the two companies say their new venture will provide “subscription services and more in an easy-to-use, flexible and affordable service that will allow all consumers across the U.S. to enjoy the new and popular entertainment they want, whenever they choose, using the media and devices they prefer.”
Almost concurrent to the Verizon announcement comes word that Coinstar has agreed to buy NCR, the company that makes the Blockbuster Express kiosks that serve as Redbox’s chief rival. Blockbuster, which is now owned by Dish Network, have never owned their own DVD distribution machines, and instead have been licensing their name to NCR this whole time. Coinstar will reportedly pay $100 million for NCR “hardware, software, and service,” so one can imagine that it will only be a matter of time before all of the blue Blockbuster Express kiosks around the country suddenly get a red makeover.
While details about the streaming service and whether or not Redbox will be able to instantly get rid of the Blockbuster name on their new machines aren’t yet available, I can’t see these two stories happening at the same time being seen as anything other than a stake aimed directly at the hearts of Netflix and Blockbuster, and as a play by Redbox to take over all aspects of the home video industry. The question I have to ask is, with a new streaming service and a lot more kiosk locations, does this mean Redbox has plans to diversify the titles that they offer the public in a given week, or are we going to see the model of everyone watching the same three movies at the same time become even more prevalent? That, dear friends, is a scary thought. [Forbes, Forbes]