Redbox Sales Dive, Possibly Due To 28-Day New Release Delay

Redbox rental kiosks apparently aren’t as appealing when its “new releases” are no longer so new. Thanks in part to an agreement not to stock new discs from major studios until 28 days after release, Redbox sales are down despite kiosk traffic remaining consistent.

The Seattle Times reports Coinstar, which owns Redbox, reduced its fourth-quarter sales estimates from the $415-$440 million range to $391 million. People are apparently perusing the kiosks as often as ever, but no longer renting as many DVDs on each trip.

This past period marked Redbox’s first holiday season in which it had to delay movies. Coinstar CEO Paul Davis said in a statement that the 28-day delay was only part of the problem. He said too many kiosks were lacking wide selection because many customers returned DVDs they rented to different kiosks, throwing the supply off balance.

“We have already taken a number of decisive steps to better align content purchases with our consumers’ behavior, including offering more day and date titles and better allocating Blu-ray titles to high demand areas.

Does the inability to rent a movie in the first four weeks stop you from using Redbox as often?

Coinstar shares plunge after lower 4Q estimate [The Seattle Times via High-def Digest]

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  1. Cameraman says:

    Hey, this golden egg is awesome. But I bet if we cut the goose open, we could get a second golden egg, and we wouldn’t have to wait for tomorrow. Frankly, I can’t see any downsides to this plan, and I suggest we implement it immediately. Gentlemen, sharpen your axes.

    • notovny says:

      I primarily use Redbox the same way I use “New Releases” racks in stores: To remind me that a movie I want to add to my Netflix queue has been released on DVD.

      • PunditGuy says:

        No need to wait. You can save movies to your queue that haven’t been released yet.

        • SunnyLea says:

          Indeed. Here’s a handy app that even lets me save things that haven’t been released yet: http://www.dvdlater.com/

        • notovny says:

          Agreed. What Redbox, (and the New Releases store aisle) mostly does is remind me about movies I’d forgotten about between the theatrical release and now. Movies I really am anticipating viewing on disc, I’ll often have queued months before they become available

          It’s more of an “Oh yeah, they made a remake of ‘The Wolfman.’ What the heck.” kind of thing.

    • pawnblue says:

      You are a genius. That story simply summarizes so many corporate problems. If only corporate leaders had access to this sort of common wisdom.

  2. George4478 says:

    I stopped going to my nearby Redbox over a)lack of bluray and b)the machine being full and having to drive several miles to another machine to avoid another day’s charge.

    The 28-day delay is irrelevant to me.

    • Beave says:

      Lack of Blu-Ray is the bigger deal imo. My biggest frustration lately has been the lack of Blu-Rays too. I even have the stupid Redbox app for my phone and have yet to find Inception on Blu-Ray in my local box.

      The problem is Redboxes appeal to two completely different subsets of customers… The first is people who aren’t technologically advanced and have no idea about streaming, Netflix, or how to download a torrent of a film. Those people probably aren’t renting Blu-Rays. The second group are people who want the Blu-Ray quality. Legalities and ethical issues aside, within a week or two of release anyone interested can find a good torrent for any major film in at least DVD quality. Frame rate may be a little low, it may have some minor compression artifacts and audio layers cut to reduce size, but if you just want to see the latest teen angst vampire film it’s out there. Download time will be in the 1-2hour range for a decent internet connection. But if you want Blu-Ray quality you still need to rent the movie somewhere. You can’t stream, you can’t torrent. There typically aren’t torrents in 1080p/24 quality and they’re certainly much too large to do on a whim.

      • Herbz says:

        There are definitely 1080p/720p rips of blu-ray out there. And they typically are available within 48 hours of release (sometimes even before release). You just aren’t looking hard enough.

      • FrugalFreak says:

        closed captions is not on bootlegs. So deaf & HOH people want physical media.

      • pot_roast says:

        As the others have said, x264 rips exist.. they just haven’t trickled down to the cesspool that is bittorrent yet. :)

  3. JKulp42757 says:

    I love redbox, but there just hasn’t been many movies lately that I’ve wanted to see.
    As far as the supply goes, there are 4-5 redbox kiosks in my small city (30,000), and I always
    go online to reserve the movie I want…that way I know it’s available, and at what kiosk before I get there.

  4. jesirose says:

    I haven’t been renting from Redbox as much because we’ve been actually going out to movies in theaters more often.

  5. uber_mensch says:

    I have Netflix, a network connection and a big screen TV. Tell me again why I need Redbox.

    • Battlehork says:

      I also made my own Redbox kiosk at home.

    • MutantMonkey says:

      Because Redbox offers movies that you can’t stream through Netflix as well as Redbox, for the motivated, is quicker to get into your home than an ordered DVD from Netflix.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        Therein lies the problem. If you’re willing to wait 28 days for a new release to be available, what’s a little more time to wait for the disc to arrive? And because RedBox only does new releases (and sometimes really crappy B horror movies) there’s little else to get from RedBox if it’s out of the movie you want. At least with Netflix, while I’m waiting for a new release to get to me, I have about 30 other things I could be watching.

        You don’t join Netflix because you have an overwhelming desire to see the newest movies before everyone else.

    • cigsm says:

      Because Netflix streaming is horrible?
      And Netflix has the same 28 day wait embargo for many of the same studios that Redbox does.
      The fact of the matter is Netflix will NEVER be able to compete with their horrible streaming selection. The studios laughed at their pennies for more recent titles, when they can get dollars through OnDemand and syndication.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        Netflix streaming is actually very good, IMO. The selection is expanding, and many independent and foreign films are available for streaming right away, which really gives us the chance to see small features that weren’t released in any theaters. We’ve seen a lot of documentaries because they’ve been available for streaming. The Starz Play streaming quality has vastly improved, IMO. We watched a movie the other day and the quality was very good.

        • Daverson says:

          I agree that the streaming selection gets better all the time. But for me – and apparently many others – the quality of the stream is iffy at best.

          When I select a movie to stream, there’s less than a 50% chance it will make it all the way through without significant delays or buffering problems. There have been times when the movies have streamed to me fifteen seconds at a time, and I’ve just said “Fuck it” and given up on streaming that night.

          My connection speed and quality are not the issue – I’ve done extensive line speed and quality testing and I’ve tweaked my connection for optimal throughput. The issue is definitely Netflix’s shitty delivery, and despite the outpouring of lurve for Netflix streaming here on Consumerist, there are loads of forums and discussion boards where huge numbers of people with the same problems as me are discussing possible solutions (all without the help of Netflix’s completely apathetic customer “support.”)

          • TheGreySpectre says:

            Yay for anecdotal evidence. I have never had any buffering problems on my connection (25Mb down/ 5 Up) I have never seen any problems on my parents 15Mb down connection either.

            • kewpie says:

              More anecdotal evidence. I never have problems with Netflix streaming. And we are often streaming on 2-3 different devices in our house at the same time.

          • Eviile says:

            Please don’t reduce the problem to either ‘you’ or ‘netflix’. there is a whole lot of copper wire between you and them, Holmes.

            • SunnyLea says:

              I have no cable, watch Netflix streaming almost exclusively, and I’ve never once had a buffering issue. So let’s add that to our pile of anecdotes, okay?

            • Southern says:

              Could also be his ISP limiting NetFlix traffic to frustrate him on purpose, in an attempt to make him use OnDemand instead.

          • weshigh says:

            It actually might be you, or your ISP. I stream netflix via my iPhones 3G connection often while on the bus and I rarely have buffering issues. When I do, I know its because that area of town has shitty cell service. I’ve also used Sprint 4G service for streaming before I got my internet installed at home and was able to stream HD without issue. For the past 2 months I’ve been using Netflix streaming almost every day on my ATT uVerse connection without any buffering problem.

            Try different DNS servers like (openDNS). My girlfriends internet would speed test fine, but streaming was no good. Switched to OpenDNS and it got much better.

          • pecan 3.14159265 says:

            I’ve never had problems with streaming, so add me to the list of anecdotes. You say it’s Netflix but like others have said, it’s most likely your ISP.

            • One-Eyed Jack says:

              Same here — we stream via our Blu-Ray player to the tv and rarely have delivery issues, even in HD.

          • sqlrob says:

            Do your network tests right when the failure happens. I’d bet that you’re getting throttled more than anything else.

      • kathygnome says:

        Never had a problem with netflix streaming. We have a DVD plan as well, so we get things that aren’t available anyway. The 28 day thing really doesn’t enter into it. This month or next month isn’t really going to affect me. I’m skeptical that’s the real issue for Redbox, though they may have customers more sensitive to wanting the latest greatest.

        • jpmoney says:

          It all changes once you’ve burned through your dvd queue and are waiting for more. We’re at that point and the streaming options are laughable most of the time.

          We’re canceling Netflix after this weekend’s viewing of Inception. There simply aren’t enough current DVDs available and the streaming offerings aren’t doing it for us. I don’t blame Netflix though, I blame the studios and their 28-day waiting.

  6. D0rk says:

    Nope. Redbox gets me some relatively recent releases, and Netflix covers my the vast older catalog of movies and TV series’ that I want to watch.

    If I didn’t want to see it in the theaters, the likelihood that I wanted to rent it so urgently pretty much does not exist.

  7. tonsilpool says:

    Since my favorite video store went “kaput,” the one where everything was for a 6 day rental, and now there are no video rental stores within 10 miles of my home, I tried Redbox.
    The price is right but I do have complaints.
    It seems that all of their Blu-Ray discs are stripped down versions with no extras!
    I stopped renting Blu-Ray because of this. If they are going to charge a 50% premium for Blu-Ray, I want ALL the extras that Blu-Ray delivers!

    • Platypi {Redacted} says:

      Most Blu-Ray rentals seem to be this way these days. Blockbuster ones included. I hate that. “Honey, what are the special features on this one?” “Um, Languages and Setup.”

      Also, what the hell is with the required previews? I have rented a number of movies lately (and own a couple), where you cannot skip the trailers/previews or go straight to menu. You can use fast forward to watch the trailers in hyperspeed, but you have to click for each preview.

      • PunditGuy says:

        There are sometimes ways to get around the forced previews, but the solutions are player-specific. Google your Blu-ray player and someone may have figured it out for you.

        • Platypi {Redacted} says:

          Yeah, I tend to push the various FF and Skip buttons until I find one. I ran across one (I think it was a Harry Potter movie), where you could skip through each preview, but if you skipped too far, the whole pre-screening would reset. This was an 11 minute sequence that you basically had to allow to finish. Ridiculous.

      • tbax929 says:

        OMG – that is so annoying. I rented a movie from Netflix called Lottery Ticket (yes, it was horrible; a friend thought I’d like it). Anyway, I could not skip through the previews. What’s worse is they were for Friday and Rush Hour – movies that have been out for years. I was like, are you freaking kidding me?

  8. Spook Man says:

    The 28-day waiting period is stupid.

    I’m obviously not going to go buy a stupid movie just so I can see it when it first comes out on DVD. I’d first rather rent it from Redbox, Netflix, etc. and then if I like the movie, buy it.

    So technically, the MPAA is just delaying a possibly sale of their DVD movie by 28-days.

    And as JKulp42757 said, use their online service. Login, search for your movie and select a kiosk which has it. It’s reserved for you and you just swipe your card and you’re off. No waiting in the cold (if it’s outside) trying to figure out if they have the movie or not.

    • cigsm says:

      That’s great for YOU Spookman, but research shows that sales go UP with the 28 day delay. Specifically for the bigger movies.

      • FrugalFreak says:

        Sure it goes up for the people with no sense whatsoever. But there are a select few that have no consumer sense that harms and dictates the rest of our choices.

    • gman863 says:

      The MPAA isn’t the guilty party; each studio cuts its own deals on who gets what after it’s released.

      Comcast, DirecTV and Dish Network have cut deals with movie studios to have PPV availabiliy the same date the retail DVD version hits the streets. My guess is the studios get a cut of each PPV sale (usually at least $4.99 per viewing).

      In contrast, RedBox buys their DVDs (likely at a pretty steep discount off standard wholesale); Netflix pays a flat licensing fee – neither of which are as profitable as making a few bucks on either a full-price retail DVD or an overpriced PPV showing.

  9. c_c says:

    They still have some movies before Netflix … I just rented The Social Network, Netflix isn’t getting it until February.

    That being said, the delays don’t change my rental habits w/ Redbox. I still use Netflix as my primary source, and Redbox to supplement it when we want to randomly watch a movie and don’t have a Netflix disc in… often use codes to get them for free, which is always nice. We have such a backlog in movies that 28-day delays really doesn’t mean anything to us.

  10. ConsumerA says:

    The 28 day waiting period doesn’t affect me at all. Since I only rent via Redbox, if they aren’t in Redbox, then I don’t “know” they are available elsewhere and it doesn’t bother me at all.

  11. Tim says:

    Redbox’s only real strong point is new releases. Since each box is quite limited in its selection, the business model has usually been to put the most popular movies (new releases) in the machines.

    Now that they can’t do that for 28 days, I’m not surprised they’ve lost business.

  12. kathygnome says:

    I would think that given the limited selection in a redbox that new releases might be more of an issue for them than something like netflix that essentially offers every DVD ever.

    (As a 10+ year user of netflix the notion of having to go somewhere to get or return a movie seems ludicrously primitive.)

  13. mikedt says:

    Redbox’s selection seems soon enough to me. In fact I would have used it again this past saturday if the credit card reader had been able to read any of my cards.

  14. Rebecca K-S says:

    I’m generally not very aware of what movies are current anyway, so it doesn’t make much difference to me. I don’t rent from Redbox anymore because I no longer work in a store that has a Redbox in it.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      I’m in the same boat. It will be “new to me” regardless of any other delays.

  15. savvy9999 says:

    I only use redbox for renting kids’ movies, and frankly, the Redbox selection of kid flix has sucked lately. Straight to video, off-brand, hokey pet-adventure movies? My rugrats aren’t interested.

    Maybe it’s a down time for kid movies, nothing really “hot” from the major studios to rent out; I don’t know. I let my kids decide, and they would rather watch something they already have at home than take a flyer on “Santa Paws 6: Revenge of the Yellow Snow”. YMMV

  16. stephent says:

    I have a quicker, cheaper, and legal way to get new release movies; I just check them out for free from the local library. Plus I get to keep them for a week.

    • Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

      Yea, that would be good IF my local library would get new releases.

    • JulesNoctambule says:

      I’d do the same if my local library carried DVDs. Unfortunately, plenty of libraries don’t stock any.

  17. wagnerism says:

    I looked up previous stories and wasn’t able to figure this out. Why did Redbox agree to delay 28 days? Was it the threat of a long and expensive lawsuit? Did the studios pay Redbox to stall 28 days? What was in it for Redbox to agree to this? Going into it, it was obvious that the 28-day delay could only hurt their sales.

    I, for one, don’t ever wish to rent or buy a DVD ever again. **Note that I only speak for myself.** Physical media is dead and inconvenient. I have dozens of DVDs of awesome movies that I simply never watch. I have several that were given to me as gifts that I haven’t opened.

    When I do find myself looking for something to watch I have many other options. I can
    -do a quick search across the channel guide
    -look at what the DVR has recorded in the past week
    -search through literally hundreds of free/subscribed on-demand titles
    -use Netflix on-demand, if I choose to subscribe.
    -leave the house to see a movie in the theater

    Then there are other options that I rarely, if ever, choose. That would be – in descending order of probability –
    -play a Netflix DVD, should I subscribe
    -pick out a dvd from my collection
    -buy an on-demand new release
    -leave the house to do anything but obtain a DVD
    -leave the house to visit Redbox
    -leave the house to visit Blockbuster (assuming one survived within driving distance)
    -actually buy another DVD that I will only watch once

    /I think I’ll actually try out Netflix the next time they send me an offer.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      It was a similar deal to Netflix. The studios got Netflix to hold DVD releases for 28 days in exchange for an expansion of the streaming catalog. RedBox really doesn’t have that going for it, and while it has expressed interest in developing streaming, I don’t really see how RedBox benefitted from this deal.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      Since Netflix sends DVDs to your home by mail, I don’t think it’s inconvenient at all. Also, since you’re renting a DVD, you just return it and there’s no clutter. We have watched more through Netflix than we have in theaters or by purchasing discs.

  18. Master Medic: Now with more Haldol says:

    “too many kiosks were lacking supply because customers were returning them to other locations”.

    Welllll excuuuuuussse meeeee. I was under the impression that was a feature.

    • Beave says:

      Yes, but they seem to have issues with some units constantly getting low while others are full and you can’t return there. The Walmart near where I work is mostly a commercial area and it hardly ever has anything interesting and seems to be low on titles in general. Like I’ll select Blu-Ray and see two in the entire box. I can about guarantee they have a problem with people taking movies from that RedBox and returning them at machines closer to home.

      • Master Medic: Now with more Haldol says:

        Well, then red box ought to impliment a policy of “rent here, return here”.

        • OutPastPluto says:

          …or perhaps they should manually sort out their stock or perhaps even present some means of knowing what’s in stock at what kiosks. This same sort of situation could happen with conventional rental establishment even without the migration of content from one kiosk to another.

    • wagnerism says:

      Jerk! (pun intended) :)

  19. Robcalibur says:

    My problem with Redbox is that their boxes never work properly. I always have trouble returning the movies (either it is full or malfunctioning and says it can’t process my return) or the touchscreens don’t work.
    Netflix for me.

  20. Awesome McAwesomeness says:

    Oh no. Only $391 million? Whatever will they do?

  21. VectorVictor says:

    No Blu-Rays available = No RedBox rentals from this consumer.

    Perhaps they need to just offer a separate ‘BlueBox’ for Blu customers only?

    • MercuryPDX says:

      I seem to have the opposite problem. More blu-ray (and games) than you can shake a stick at, and a dismal selection of other titles.

      Maybe they’re not re-balancing the machines as often… or they’re doing it the day after I visit?

  22. JustinD2515 says:

    Not having new releases for 28 days has made me use on demand and blockbuster more than I have in a long time. I got a blu ray for Christmas and found that most of the machines in my area rarely have them in stock. It’s not worth the gas to drive 20 minutes when I can just get it two miles away at Blockbuster.

  23. RP_Fan says:

    I have a Roku player with Amazon Video On Demand and Netflix. Between the two, I have no use for Redbox. I have a 15mb down internet connection, and pay $3/mo. for basic cable. Yes, $3.

    Now, why should I use Redbox?

  24. RandomHookup says:

    Wouldn’t this kind of work itself out? You go from having new releases to having no new releases to having 28-days-delayed new releases. The audience that rents at Redbox will eventually have movies that are relatively new releases to rent rather than four copies of “Are We There Yet?”

  25. tz says:

    Someone else noted this makes Netflix, especially streaming, far more attractive.

    I don’t go out everyday. Yet if I do a redbox rental, I have to go back the next day, to the crowded store parking lot and make my way through or I get charged another dollar. A few times will pay for the netflix subscription. I don’t think the netflix streaming has the 20 minute previews, notes, and other junk they prepend the disk with. And they wonder why people rip the disk (it takes less time to start the rip than to get through the junk). And then just get the stupid thing off bit-torrent which is normally pre-stripped.

  26. rambo76098 says:

    No, but subscribing to Netflix did stop me from going to Redbox. The 28 day wait is stupid, I have enough stuff in my queue that if I added something today, I wouldn’t have it in 28 days anyway. I couldn’t care less when I see the movie.

  27. JeremieNX says:

    The 28 days does not effect me in the slightest. 85-90% of all movies and TV produced within the last 15ish years is pure dreck anyway and I just don’t have that burning desire to see a movie before all the other unwashed masses.

  28. PLATTWORX says:

    I used Redbox twice and found the process annoying:

    1. Usually, unless you go at an odd time, there is a line 3-4 people deep waiting.

    2. The person at the front of the line is normally paging through the selections a few times slowly trying to find a film with no regard to the people tapping their feel behind them.

    3. The movie I have in mind is normally out of stock.

    4. I do not want to have to go back out the next day before 24 hours has passed to return the disc.

    I much prefer to plan a touch ahead and use Netflix. No driving, no waiting, etc.

  29. damageddude says:

    I pretty much stopped using Redbox when I started using Netflix to stream movies and old tv shows. The exception is sometimes the kids want to see a specific movie and I have a different Netflix DVD out. The delay doesn’t bother me as I have so many movies in my Netflix DVD que it takes awhile to catchup.

  30. FrugalFreak says:

    Oh sure pick the excuse that blames consumers. jeeeeeze louise. get a pair and somebody stand up to big media.

  31. skakh says:

    Without question I use Redbox much less since I am unable to get the discs I want when I want. Waiting 28 days is not something I am willing to do. I now have Vudu and get the newly released discs when I want, I download to my BluRay (LG) and watch when convenient. I am willing to pay a bit more to avoid the hassle of picking up and returning to and from Redbox. With Netflix for older movies, Vudu for newer movies and other sources coming on-line, I think Redbox is on the down slide and will end much like Block Buster, irrelevant. Deju Vu all over again, as Yogi stated so eloquently.