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Redbox Instant challenges Netflix with dual services

Redbox Instant is taking the fight straight to Netflix and other video streaming offerings like Amazon and Hulu. The service, a movie streaming joint venture between Verizon and Coinstar, offers a mix of online streaming and DVD rentals and primarily shows movies.

Redbox Instant has been in private beta testing since December 2012, but now anyone can sign up without needing a special access code. A subscription costs $8 per month and includes four one-night DVD rentals and unlimited video streaming. Blu-Ray rentals cost a $1 upgrade, and Redbox is offering a one-month free trial.

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Most of the content on Redbox Instant comes from Warner Bros. and Epix, which includes titles from Paramount studios, Lionsgate, and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, so the initial selection is not as compelling as you would currently find on Netflix. Redbox Instant’s bonus, however, is the ability to purchase more than 4600 premium rentals before general availability on streaming services.

Besides its Web interface, Redbox Instant can be accessed through iOS and Android apps, as well as through the Xbox 360 and select Samsung and LG smart TVs and Blu-ray players. Redbox Instant charges the same $8 monthly price as Netflix, but includes four DVD rentals from its catalog while Netflix does not include any DVD rentals in its standard streaming plan. However, Netflix subscribers can pay an additional $8 per month for unlimited rentals.

Mixed access

However, the Redbox Instant interface might not be as straightforward as you’d expect. The app and online interface are designed not only to stream movies, but also to get you to buy titles or rent the DVDs. Only a small chunk of the titles currently available in the library are available for streaming, which is usually reserved for the less exciting movies. New releases are available as DVD rentals or for purchase of a digital copy. So far, Netflix and Amazon have little to be worried about.

Redbox Instant CEO Shawn Strickland called his service basically “a disc plus offering”, with streaming supplementing the DVD rentals in an interview with GigaOm. This is why Redbox takes a slightly different approach than Netflix, which began as a movie-focused DVD service. Netflix now features TV content heavily, and also developed its own highbrow original content, like House of Cards with Kevin Spacey. Strickland said it would be “really premature” to talk about Redbox Instant developing original content at this stage.

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