Who hasn’t watched a formerly bustling Blockbuster store shutter somewhere in their neighborhood?
The movie rental chain has suffered significantly in recent years, all the while Redbox’s less complicated version of the same transaction has proved a viable economic model.
It’s why today’s news that Redbox is moving into the streaming arena is significant.
The service, dubbed Redbox Instant, will debut in beta format this month. It will be open to the public in 2013 and include access to up to four DVDs rentals a month from the company’s kiosks.
Customers who want Blu-rays will have to pay $1 extra.
The $8 figure is not an arbitrary one; it’s almost the exact price that Netflix charges for its lowest membership package.
The folks at Redbox must realize there’s room for more than one streaming giant. Amazon.com’s Prime service also delivers streaming options, but so far Netflix is the undisputed field leader.
Netflix will remain the streaming king – for now. Amazon Prime lacks the number of titles Netflix offers, and its arcane category system is no match for Netflix’s superior model. And the initial number of titles to be available to Redbox Instant customers is far less than Netflix’s catalogue.
The move still allows Redbox patrons to ease into streaming without cutting the cord on their disk needs and will likely force both Netflix and Amazon Prime to improve their existing services.