Redbox to offer movie streaming for subscribers


by OWEN LEI / KING 5 News

Posted on February 17, 2011 at 8:06 PM

Updated Thursday, Feb 17 at 8:06 PM

SEATTLE -- Soon, you may no longer have to go to that red box to pick up your Redbox.

Redbox, whose parent company is Bellevue-based Coinstar, Inc., announced Thursday that a subscription streaming video service will soon be joining those seemingly ubiquitous DVD kiosks.

That would put the company in direct competition with Netflix, who last year began offering a streaming-only plan along with its movie-by-mail service.

"Redbox has reaffirmed our vision to provide a digital service that leverages our kiosk network while giving consumers access to streaming content with a partner or partners," said company president Mitch Lowe in a statement.

Redbox has declined to say who those "partners" may be, though Amazon, with its streaming video service, has been rumored to be in the mix. 

"I don't want to do my grocery shopping in my undershorts in front of a computer screen either," said Craig Wilson.

Leave it to the owner of Video Isle in Seattle's Queen Anne neighborhood to describe the video kiosk down the street like a sibling hogging all the attention.

"It's kind of like when I was a little kid," said Wilson, with a smirk. "My mom used to dote after me... and then a little brother came in and then I thought... Mom, why?"

But, even Wilson, steeped in the traditional business model, will tell you online video just makes financial sense for the larger companies, even as he pushes what he said is better customer service.

"The fact that there are all these different ways the consumer can get their entertainment," said Wilson "It is a fact. I can't ignore that."

Redbox has not announced when it will launch its subscription streaming service, but does say that it will be a complement, not a replacement, for their kiosks, said a company spokesperson.

The announcement comes a month after the company's stock price dropped 25 percent drop in light of lowered forecasts.  Chief Executive Officer Paul Davis at the time blamed a 28-day delay between Hollywood and Redbox releases, combined with higher costs for Blu-Ray discs.

Until recently, Netflix has dominated the streaming movie landscape, but with Redbox's announcement, and Hulu this week offering the Criterion Collection (800 legendary Hollywood films) to its Hulu Plus subscribers, the landscape is changing.

"Now that you have so much competition, every film library of any sort is going to be up for grabs  because that's where the money is," said Skip Ferderber, technology writer for

Ferderber said the other upside to streaming is that movies are no longer bound by their packaging. Netflix, Redbox, and Amazon all have smart phone applications.  Redbox's does not currently support streaming video, but it allows customers to reserve movies at local kiosks.

"With the broad pipes extending to mobile devices, like tablets, like smart phones," Ferderber said, "now the content goes wherever you are."

But if you're craving something tangible, Craig Wilson said he's more than willing to pop some popcorn for you in his store and lend you the expertise of his movie buff employees.

"The experience is still what I'm providing," he said.