After months of planning, Redbox — the company behind those ubiquitous DVD rental kiosks — has announced a plan to fire a major salvo at Netflix, the dominant player in the streaming-video market. In a partnership with Verizon, Redbox will begin offering its own streaming-video service, called Redbox Instant, in a public beta test later this month. Does Redbox Instant have the potential to be a Netflix killer?
It's arguably a better deal: For $8 each month, says Himank Sharma at Reuters, Redbox Instant will give users unlimited streaming and credits to rent four DVDs from any Redbox kiosk. That's just a penny more than the subscription price for Netflix's own streaming service, which doesn't include any DVDs. (Redbox Instant also offers a $9-a-month option, which lets subscribers sub out DVDs for Blu-Ray discs.) Netflix's comparable DVDs-plus-streaming deals start at $15.98 per month, making Redbox Instant a huge value for movie lovers who want both.
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But don't get too excited — Redbox Instant also has some limitations: TV shows, a major part of Netflix's streaming business, won't be included in the Redbox Instant service, says Ryan Nakashima at the Associated Press. Neither will video games, which can be rented for $2 per night from Redbox kiosks. And Redbox Instant will be limited to use on computers, internet-connected Blu-Ray players, and internet-enabled TVs; video game consoles such as the Playstation 3 or the Xbox 360, which are compatible with Netflix's streaming service, are not an option.
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And, for now, Redbox Instant will offer far fewer titles than Netflix: The new streaming service will launch with about 5,500 movies, including popular titles from studios like Lionsgate and MGM, says David Lieberman at Deadline, but that's still a far cry from Netflix's estimated 60,000 titles. The four monthly DVD credits included in the Redbox Instant subscription price means that movie lovers should have no trouble getting access to the most popular recent movies — but they'll need to visit a kiosk to do it. Redbox Instant has the potential to be a Netflix killer, but it still has a long way to go.
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