February 6, 2012 | by Andrew Kameka
Redbox, the DVD and Blu-Ray rental kiosk spotted outside grocers across the U.S., is launching a joint-venture with Verizon. The new partnership will give consumers the chance to rent a new release DVD or Blu-ray from a physical Redbox location or access on-demand streams and downloads from Verizon.
The Verizon-Redbox partnership, currently unnamed and light on details, appears on the surface to be a Netflix competitor. But based on the few details that are available, there’s no guarantee that Verizbox (unofficial title that I’m totally trademarking) will follow the same all-you-can-eat format of Netflix. There could be a monthly subscription fee to watch unlimited video, but there also could be a per-movie charge or a combination of the two that gives members the option of purchasing a film out right.
The Verizon-Redbox “product portfolio” will launch in the second half of 2012, so there’s plenty of time to wait and see what exactly Verizbox has up its self. There could be a natural rival to rental options based on the number of kiosks Redbox already has, and the company’s recent decision to no longer honor the lengthy wait times some movie studios want to place on rental services could lead to movies being available weeks before Netflix users ever get a chance. That could be a strong differentiator if the service is similarly-priced to Netflix.
There’s no word yet if this service will be limited to Verizon wireless customers. One would assume that Verizon might want to use the streaming service as a way to entice users to sign-up for its 4G LTE network, but the carrier may just as well want to expose this service to as many users as possible and offer streaming on computers, web connected TV’s, tablets, and maybe even phones not tied to its network. Redbox, which has a 35-percent stake in the new venture, probably falls into “as many as possible” category, so we’ll see how that affects availability later this year.