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This article was published on December 12, 2012

Redbox Instant by Verizon launches its $8/month Netflix rival this month, with 4 majors on board

Redbox Instant by Verizon launches its $8/month Netflix rival this month, with 4 majors on board
Paul Sawers
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Paul Sawers

Paul Sawers was a reporter with The Next Web in various roles from May 2011 to November 2014. Follow Paul on Twitter: @psawers or check h Paul Sawers was a reporter with The Next Web in various roles from May 2011 to November 2014. Follow Paul on Twitter: @psawers or check him out on Google+.

Redbox Instant by Verizon, a joint venture between Redbox and Verizon Communications, has just unveiled more specifics around the soon-to-launch service, with various deals in place with major Hollywood studios, channels and device manufacturers.

Redbox Instant will launch as a beta service this month, landing with an $8.00 per-month subscription price as it looks to claim a piece of the Netflix pie.

The service will offer unlimited streaming for thousands of movies, including titles from premium network EPIX, thanks to a deal announced today. It will also include four one-night credits per month for the latest DVDs at Redbox kiosks. You can throw another $1 on the subscription fee to redeem these credits for Blu-ray Disc rentals instead.

The road to launch

Just to recap, back in February this year, we reported that mobile operator Verizon and Redbox were collaborating on a joint venture to create a service capable of competing with Netflix. Whilst it was announced at the time that Redbox would continue to operate its DVD and Blu-ray rental service, Verizon also said it would deliver a “new content-rich video on-demand streaming and download service,” which is set to launch in the second half of 2012.

Coinstar, Redbox’s parent company, also recently announced it was buying NCR, the company which runs the Blockbuster Express kiosks, with a view towards creating a disc-rental monolith. Gary Cohen, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Consumer Experience at Redbox, said that this would mean it would have “more locations than McDonald’s and Starbucks combined.”

Then, a month later, we reported that Redbox had inked a deal to keep Universal’s Blu-ray and DVDs in its kiosks for two more years

So whilst some may have seen the Verizon deal as an effort by Redbox to position itself in the online VoD streaming space, these series of announcements suggest that physical-format media is still very much on its radar.

With Redbox Instant, however, movie lovers can also use it without a subscription, by selecting new releases available for purchase or rental on an individual bases, or reserve for pick up at a local Redbox kiosk.

Content is king

Redbox Instant has also inked a deal with EPIX, a US-based hybrid TV channel and subscription VoD service, operated by Studio 3 Partners – a joint venture with Viacom, MGM and Lions Gate Entertainment.

With the agreement, Redbox Instant will be able to stream new releases such as Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol and The Hunger Games, 90 days after they premiere in the traditional premium window.

Redbox Instant content will also be bolstered by electronic sell-through (EST) – which means consumers can download a movie to their device for offline viewing – and VOD rental agreements with major studios including Lionsgate, NBCUniversal, Paramount Pictures, Relativity and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. Redbox Instant has also previously announced a content licensing agreement with Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, meaning that it has four of the six so-called ‘Majors’ on board, with Disney and Fox missing.

In terms of devices, Redbox Instant will be available online via a browser, as well as iOS, Android, Samsung Blu-ray Players and TVs with SmartHub, LG Smart TV and Blu-ray Players, and Google TV. More devices will be announced imminently.

Redbox Instant say that it’s working with movie studios to secure “the freshest content selection”, and plans to tap into “pop culture events and social conversations” to guide consumers to the best content.

An exact date hasn’t been given for launch yet, but it will be later this month, and the first month’s subscription will be free. You can sign-up for updates here.

Back in October, we reported that Netflix has more than 30 million members globally, 25 million of whom are in the US alone. Throw into the mix the recent Disney deal announced by Netflix, then RedBox Instant clearly has its work cut out for it.

However, while Netflix placing a lot of focus on TV shows as well films, it seems RedBox Instant is focusing entirely on movies. Throw into the mix its 42,000-plus kiosks across the country, and its slew of partnerships with the majors, then it will likely hit the ground running from a brand perspective.

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