Redbox wants to be the new Netflix, and the company is stepping into the realm of video streaming.
Those who rent films online — presumably not counting Netflix streamers, who pay monthly subscriptions — use iTunes more than any other service, but Apple’s stranglehold on the market is loosening.
For years, Netflix steadily made its service more user-friendly by adding devices on which it let you stream films and improving the apps that let you do so. But now the company has taken a step backward in functionality by removing the ability to add DVDs to your queue from everything but the Netflix site.
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.
Update: A Roku spokesman said there is no limitation on Netflix streaming. His statement:
Not content to beckon to you subliminally from its kiosks planted in heavily trafficked areas, Redbox’s corporate parent Coinstar announced it will launch a streaming service next year. Teaming with an unannounced partner, the instant rental service will go head to head with the Netflixes and Hulus of the world.
Making an about-face after stirring up a hornet’s nest of discontent by saying Americans were too self-absorbed to notice his company was providing cheap, streaming-only access to Canadian customers, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said he was joking and that Americans would get a similar service soon.
To Blockbuster and other competitors, Netflix must seem like the guy in a game of Monopoly who collects Boardwalk and Park Place early on, then proceeds to run everyone else out of business with a grin. The rental giant reached a deal with Nu Image/Millennium Group (distributors of The Expendables and Brooklyn’s Finest) to stream its films shortly after they reach home video.
Jon neglected to return a couple DVDs to the rental store on time and had to suffer the telephonic wrath of someone who bombarded him with 8 consecutive calls from both the store phone and his personal cell.
While Redbox says that they’re still figuring out price points for Blu-Ray discs in their movie kiosks, reader Dave discovered a box in the wild near San Francisco–clearly part of some test marketing effort. The price points are different from anything we’ve heard before. The machine offers Blu-Ray rentals for $2 for the first night, then $1 for each subsequent night. Yes, he sent pictures.
Redbox kiosks are cheap and convenient sources for DVD rentals. And, according to a prosecutor in southern Indiana, they’re corrupting our children. Vanderburgh County Prosecutor Stanley Levco has sent letters threatening legal action against retailers providing space to Redbox and MovieCube kiosks. The problem? Automated kiosks don’t have enough safeguards preventing minors from renting material that could theoretically harm them.
Robert’s recent experience with his local Blockbuster just underscores how ill-equipped the rental chain is to compete against Netflix and new-star-on-the-block Redbox. Whether Robert has caught them deliberately throttling his account, or he’s just the victim of a poorly implemented system, it’s not the kind of customer experience you should have to settle for anymore.