After much buzz, to do, murmurings and other forms of gossip, Redbox Instant by Verizon officially launched today and is available to the public. The service just spent three months in a closed beta test that apparently went well enough to roll it out today.
Redbox Instant is a combination of unlimited streaming plus a monthly allotment of four DVD credits to rent movies at Redbox kiosks, for $8 per month or $9 for Blu-ray discs. Currently there are 4,600 subscription titles available in the streaming catalog for subscribers, but anyone can rent or buy a movie without a subscription.
And although we heard back in February that Xbox 360 consoles would host the Redbox Instant app exclusively, the companies have apparently decided to open it up to basically whatever kind of device is out there after the beta testing.
One plus we can see — you can download a movie to your device and watch it later offline. But a potential downside for perhaps the lazier set? The DVD credits are good for one-night rentals, and if you don’t bring it back on time, a credit is deducted for every night you keep it. That could light a fire under the butts of people who tend to leave unwatched Netflix DVDs sitting on the coffee table for months at a time. Ahem.
GigaOm spoke with Redbox Instant CEO Shawn Strickland, who said it seems the service’s biggest fans are people who are still loyal to physical rentals. That’s a different feel than the one Netflix currently has, with its focus on both streaming and original content. Strickland seems to be okay with the two services coexisting because of that difference.
“We think that the over-the-top space will evolve very similarly to the cable and network space,” he said.
Which, translation time, is just how it works with TV now — you watch more than one cable network, so it could work out that you get streaming content from more than one service. And as with all things consumer-focused, having more choices is always a good thing.