Redbox wants to unite streaming and disc rental in one service – the Streamable


40,000 kiosks. That’s the number of Redbox locations that are waiting, right now, to distribute DVDs to avid moviegoers. It’s a major market, and a recent interview with Redbox CEO Galen Smith shows that Redbox has no intention of letting this market stop at picking up and dropping off DVDs.

No, according to Smith, Redbox is here to make work a strategy that even Netflix has for the most part given up on – bringing streaming and disc rental together in one place.

Smith detailed the plan in an already important week for Redbox. This is the week Redbox went public, with stocks available for purchase on NASDAQ. With such a list comes a much closer scrutiny, as analysts begin to sift through the files with a collection of fine-toothed combs, seeking to make recommendations on buying Redbox shares.

Smith noted that the plan isn’t exactly new. Redbox has already implemented a streaming app since last December. The only platform that won’t allow access to the Redbox streaming app is Amazon Fire TV, and Redbox is working frantically to bring this latest hurdle into the fold. Redbox customers, according to Smith, are typically “late adopters” of technology, for whom “full digitalization” is still a work in progress, if at all.

So right now Redbox sees its streaming capabilities as an added value more than a potential replacement for disks. The Redbox app not only offers ad-supported content, but also transactional content – the type you pay for up front, as well as over 120 live TV channels.

If this sounds a lot like you to other video streaming platforms on the market, like Crackle or Tubi, then you are not alone in this assessment. Smith notes that while he is well aware of the existence of these platforms, his customer base, for the most part, is not. Therefore, he revealed, this is a golden opportunity for Redbox to branch out and become the type of service – like a Crackle or Tubi – for customers who have never heard of it. Additionally, Smith says he wants Redbox to include movies, which he says those services don’t do as well.

Redbox is already starting to build its partnership base. It has already made deals with Lionsgate, Legendary Entertainment and several other production houses to bring more content to the service. He even struck a distribution deal with the producers of the “John Wick” franchise to put 12 original action films to service.

This is all a great idea, but Smith seems to be largely ignoring or ignoring one key point: the digital divide. One of the main reasons Redbox has all these kiosks isn’t because people just don’t want streaming. This is because streaming is not available to a lot of these people. A Pew Research study from June points out that while high-speed internet access – which is vital for video streaming – is increasingly available, there is still a large portion of the population that does not have this type. access. The Pew study noted that the percentage of Americans with broadband subscriptions reached 77%, up from 73% in 2019. Yet despite this data, one in four Americans still do not have broadband access.

Additionally, Redbox is embarking on a strategy that Netflix has been running for years already and most of it has abandoned. Netflix’s DVD offering was once one of the largest private movie archives on the planet, with 100,000 DVDs. Now? It is closer to 4000.

With Netflix still sending DVDs to as many as 2.7 million customers in 2019 through its operation, it’s clear that at least some interest remains. Netflix has run DVD and streaming operations simultaneously for years; it started broadcasting in 2007. It didn’t even give up DVD operations until 2011.

Streaming services have long been at a disadvantage compared to disk operations: rights issues. Have you ever noticed how a streaming service will see titles leave the service? This isn’t the case with disk operations, and that’s part of what kept video stores open for as long as they have been. Once the video store had a copy of “Police Academy,” they had it until it broke or was stolen.

Still, Redbox has an exciting idea in motion. As the digital divide slowly narrows with things like 4G LTE home internet and Elon Musk’s Starlink system, more and more record users will be interested in streaming as well. Still, given that there is still interest in records beyond streaming – especially thanks to rights issues – Redbox will be ready to cover that front as well. This versatility can make Redbox a serious competitor in an area increasingly rich in options.


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