After three months in private beta, US online video service Redbox Instant has launched to the general public, offering unlimited access to thousands of movies for US$ 8 per month.
Speaking to tech news website GigaOM, Shawn Strickland, CEO of Redbox Instant, confirmed that the service is now open for business, adding that the service saw interest from “hundreds of thousands” of consumers who signed up for the closed beta test, with many of them becoming paying customers after their trial period ended.
Describing Redbox Instant as a “disc plus offering”, Strickland added that the service is primarily aimed at people who still value physical rentals, with streaming supplementing DVD rentals.
This approach is clear in the pricing model: for their monthly subscription fee, customers gain access to a VOD library of 4,600 titles and four DVD rentals from the Redbox network of kiosks to be found nationwide. Customers can also digitally rent or buy newer titles for an additional fee.
Quizzed on whether Redbox Instant (a joint venture between major telco Verizon and DVD rentals specialist Redbox) has plans to enter the business of original content production, Strickland said that it is “really premature” to discuss – but did not dismiss the possibility.
Editor’s view: Despite its strong backers, Redbox Instant could struggle for a foothold as it is entering a fiercely competitive market with well-entrenched rivals.
Netflix now has over 27mn paying customers for its streaming service, and Hulu saw its paying user base double in 2012 to reach a total of 3mn (although it is currently undergoing a transition in leadership).
Both these competitors have well-defined plans to deliver original programming over the course of 2013, and Redbox Instant looks likely to struggle if it fails to offer potential customers anything more than commonly-available content at a modest price, allied to physical rentals.