Study shows kiosk services threaten traditional chains

If Hollywood thinks Redbox, with its thousands of DVD-renting kiosks, is a threat to the homevideo biz now, things are soon likely to get a lot worse.

A new study forecasts that Redbox and rival companies that rent new DVD releases for a dollar per night will control 30% of the rental market by the end of next year, driven mostly by an aggressive rollout of new kiosks in grocery stores, convenience stores, restaurants and other retailers.

Companies such as Redbox currently make up 19% of the rental market, according to the study by research firm NPD. Netflix and other DVD-by-mail subscription services have a 36% share, while Blockbuster and other traditional video chains still control the most turf with 45%.

The growth of companies like Redbox is clearly threatening the rental biz. Only a few years ago, those discount distribs repped a blip on the biz’s radar screen, with only 2% of share of rentals.

Earlier this month, Redbox owner Coinstar said it more than doubled its second-quarter revenue  from a year earlier after almost doubling its number of kiosks to almost 18,000 and boosting sales per machine by 33%.

“Consumers are obviously responding positively to the perceived value of $1-per-day rentals,” said NPD analyst Russ Crupnick. “And they appreciate the convenience offered by video rental kiosks.”

While studios want to keep those consumers happy, Hollywood is clearly divided over Redbox and its rivals. There’s been a flurry of litigation over the kiosks — Warner Home Video, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment and Universal Studios Home Entertainment are trying to impose a delayed window of 30 days or more on kiosk rentals, and Redbox is suing them as a result.

Those studios contend that the $1-per-night rentals provided by kiosks cannibalize new DVD sales.

In the first half of the year, U.S. consumer spending on DVD and Blu-ray rentals rose 8.3%, according to Rentrak, largely due to kiosks, while disc sales fell 13.5%.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Lionsgate and Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment also provide titles to Redbox.

Now Paramount Pictures is the latest to support Redbox, inking the richest deal yet with the kiosk operator.

As part of a trial revenue-sharing deal, Par will make its DVD releases available to Redbox through the end of the year.

If it continues, Redbox will pay the studio about $575 million over the next five years, with a guaranteed market share of 18.5% for Paramount titles in Redbox kiosks, almost double the 10% share the studio achieves in the overall rental market, according to Rentrak.

The deal potentially reps 25% more revenue than Redbox’s biggest contract to date — a $460 million, five-year pact that gives Sony a 19.9% share in Redbox kiosks.

Par has the right to extend the deal through 2014, with an out clause after two years, according to a Coinstar filing with the SEC.

“We’re in a unique position,” Paramount Pictures vice chairman Rob Moore said, pointing to the caliber of product the studio has coming to DVD in the fourth quarter, including “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” “Star Trek” and “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.”

The output deal covers all Par titles, including live-action films from DreamWorks but not titles from DreamWorks Animation, Moore said.

“The agreement ensures that our customers will have increased access to some of the biggest titles of the year,” said Redbox prexy Mitch Lowe.

As part of the deal, Redbox will destroy used rental inventory rather than redistribute DVDs for eventual sale to consumers. Used DVDs are a huge sticking point with the studios because they compete with new DVD sales. 

Marcy Magiera is editor-in-chief of Daily Variety sister publication Video Business. Danny King, who writes for Video Business, contributed to this report.

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