Redbox is officially venturing back into streaming — on a trial basis, anyway. A Redbox spokesperson told Variety Thursday that the company has started to test its new streaming service, dubbed Redbox Digital, with some customers. Variety first reported in April about Redbox’s plans to launch a new streaming service.
“We are testing a potential new transactional digital VOD and EST offering, with a small subset of our customers, designed to complement our core kiosk rental business,” a company spokesperson said via email. “As we test and learn from our customers, we will make evaluations that determine any future course of action.”
As part of these tests, Redbox recently published an iPad app for the new service, dubbed Redbox Digital, on the App Store. It also updated its official terms of service on its website with an entire section devoted to the streaming service, which spells out territorial and other common usage restrictions for digital services.
Speaking of: Redbox hasn’t said anything about pricing or catalog for Redbox Digital, but one can assume that it will largely mirror that of other services that allow users to pay to rent or own individual titles, including iTunes, Vudu and Google Play. That means that streaming rentals will likely be significantly more expensive than the $1.50 Redbox customers currently pay for physical disc rentals.
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The Redbox Digital catalog will also be dependent on the company’s deals with movie studios, which could mean that some movies will be available at kiosks when they’re not available for streaming. Conversely, Redbox Digital will have a much larger catalog than kiosks, which usually only hold a few hundred titles.
This isn’t the first time for Redbox to try its hands at streaming. The company launched a video subscription service dubbed Redbox Instant as a joint venture with Verizon in early 2013. Just 18 months later, that service was shuttered due to underwhelming demand and an inability to compete with Netflix. As a result of this experience, Redbox is now staying away from subscriptions, and concentrating on transactional video on demand instead, according to sources familiar with the company’s plans.
The now-published app doesn’t currently allow regular Redbox customers that aren’t part of the test to log in, much to the dismay of many upset reviewers. However, screenshots of the app suggest that users will be able to browse the service’s digital catalog, and stream titles as well as download them to the device.
There’s also a Cast button displayed, suggesting that the service will work with Google’s popular Chromecast streaming adapter and other Cast-compatible devices. Separately, Variety has learned that Redbox is also looking to bring the service to Roku devices.
It’s still very much unclear when Redbox Digital is going to launch in earnest. However, Redbox corporate parent Outerwall is scheduled to report its earnings this coming Thursday, and may use that occasion to update us on its plans.