Redbox apps are already on TVs made by Samsung and LG, as well as the web, iOS and Android devices, Apple TV, Google’s Chromecast and Roku. The addition of Vizio – also a top 10 brand – is significant, said Chris Yates, general manager of Redbox On Demand, who joined the company this fall.
“Our expansion to Vizio SmartCast TVs brings Redbox On Demand to millions of families directly from their couches,” Yates said. “As we head into 2019, we’ll continue to focus on the importance of device expansion to make our app available on as many devices as possible.”
Redbox is best known for its nationwide fleet of more than 40,000 red kiosks where consumers can rent DVDs, Blu-ray Discs and 4K Ultra HD Blu-rays for about two bucks a night. In December 2017, seeking a new revenue stream, it launched a digital movie and TV store called Redbox On Demand.
Redbox On Demand lets customers buy or rent digital copies of films and shows over the internet, putting the company in the same digital retail space as Amazon Prime Video, Apple iTunes, FandangoNow, Google Play, Microsoft Movies & TV and a handful of others.
The service launched with more than 7,000 movie and TV show titles available for on-demand streaming or purchase and digital distribution deals with all major studios except the Walt Disney Co. (which successfully sued Redbox to block the sale of digital-download codes for Disney’s new releases).
A year later, Redbox On Demand has “surpassed major milestones to become a real player in the competitive digital home entertainment space,” said Redbox CEO Galen Smith. “We’re seeing hundreds of thousands of customers, including bringing back folks we haven’t seen in a while.”
More than 50% of Redbox On Demand transactions are from people who have either stopped renting discs at Redbox kiosks or never patronized Redbox before, according to Smith.
To maintain the momentum, Smith said, Redbox is aggressively seeking out partnerships with consumer electronics companies to install Redbox On Demand apps on new TVs.
Redbox also is expanding its library of content “to include more titles we know our customers want to watch,” Smith said. Since launch, the service has added about 5,000 titles, and Redbox On Demand now offers a selection of about 12,000.
Redbox also is prepping its first-ever national ad campaign, which will promote both kiosk rentals and Redbox On Demand. Two national spots are in the works, bowing at the 2018 Redbox Bowl, a college football game between the Michigan State Spartans and the University of Oregon Ducks that will be held on New Year’s Eve (Dec. 31) at Levin’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., the home of the San Francisco 49ers.
Smith sees Redbox On Demand as a way to transition consumers to the concept of bringing entertainment into their homes digitally. “We have a whole set of customers who might not have tried TVOD [transactional video on demand] or EST [electronic sell-through], and we think we can transition them to this new form of content delivery that they’re not yet using,” he said. “It’s a big opportunity for us to get them to stay within the Redbox ecosystem and serve their needs — and it helps the studios, as well, by getting consumers interested in doing a higher transaction.”
Like other digital retailers, Redbox On Demand charges customers significantly more to stream a movie online ($3.99 to $4.99 for new releases, $1.99 for older films) than to rent a disc at a kiosk (starting at $1.75).
“The kiosk will always be the best value,” he said, “but if you want to watch it without leaving your home the value comes in the form of convenience, the ability to press a button on the remote and get the movie directly from the app.”
Thomas K. Arnold is editorial director of Media Play News.