Redbox-Verizon Streaming Venture Likely to Do Original Content

JV head Strickland says original programming likely will center on family-oriented fare

While Redbox Instant by Verizon is focused today on jump-starting its DVD-plus-streaming biz, eventually it will move to license original programming, most likely with a family bent, according to topper Shawn Stricklan.

As a streaming video service, “I don’t see how you can avoid having original and/or exclusive content,” he told the Ad Age Digital Conference in New York today.

However, he added, the company — a joint venture between Redbox parent Coinstar and Verizon Communications — is not likely to dip its toes into original programming this year.

“There’s a long development process there. If I had [Netflix original series] ‘House of Cards,’ I don’t know that I would get too many additional subscribers,” Strickland said. “My focus today is creating a content offering and platform that pulls people in. Ultimately I think we’ll get there, but not in the near term.”

Coinstar and Verizon formed Redbox Instant by Verizon in 2012, and debuted the service earlier this year. The monthly $8 subscription provides access to 5,000 to 6,000 movies and up to four DVD kiosk rentals.

The interest in originals was revealed last month by CAA TV literary agent Peter Micelli, who said Redbox Instant by Verizon execs have inquired about programming opportunities.

Strickland said he personally liked programming on cablers AMC and FX, and owned up to being a Netflix subscriber who’s looking forward to the final season of “Arrested Development.”

But when it comes to originals for Redbox Instant by Verizon, he said, “We’re probably going to be a little more mass market.” Content genre will be episodic family-friendly fare, he said. “I think we will probably go more in that direction than sitcom, which Amazon is trying.”

Quipped Strickland, “I’m trying to keep my own personal tastes out of it, because that could lead to a market of about 10 people.”

Movies featuring comedian Kevin James do very well on Redbox’s DVD rentals, with Strickland calling him “a rockstar on the kiosks. There’s a space there for  fare that the whole family can enjoy, that’s one of the areas we look at, how do we fill that void.”

Strickland, as he’s done in the past, disputed the idea that the JV is trying to create a “Netflix killer.”

“Our offering we brought to market is not meant for consumers who are 100% streaming,” he said. “We expect our primary audience to be family but it’s very much a work in progress.”

While digital windows may eventually supersede DVD releases, Strickland argued that the DVD format today is easier to use and more portable for many consumers. “It takes no effort — you can pop it in a laptop drive or in the back of car.”

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