Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Redbox Ready to Give Netflix Some Competition

redbox streamingStreaming video is becoming increasingly popular. People can stream movies and televison programs directly to their TV or laptop within seconds. I know that I use my laptop all of the time to watch streaming movies that are included with my Netflix account. Now a recent survey conducted by Redbox has revealed that they might be preparing to give Netflix a run for their money. If the survey is to be believed, Redbox is contemplating streaming movies over the Internet for a small percentage of what Netflix charges.

Before discussing this latest possible development, let’s go back in history a little bit. Netflix first came on the playing field when they began offering essentially unlimited video rental for a fraction of the price that major video-rental chains charged. Netflix forced many different video-rental stores out of business. Why would someone want to pay somewhere around $5 for one single movie when Netflix offered there cheapest plan for just $4.99. Redbox then entered into the realm with their dollar-per-video-per-night rental plan. This caused even more problems for chains like Blockbuster and Hollywood Video. Now Redbox is surveying people to see if they would be interested in a low-cost video streaming service.

The survey that Redbox conducted asked people to rate how interested they would be in a rental service that cost about half of what the same plan would cost from Netflix. The plan that the survey was questioning people’s interest in cost $3.95 a month and included unlimited streaming video access and four free kiosk rentals.

Now don’t think that this new streaming service from Redbox is a done deal or anything yet. A spokesman said, “It's not necessarily an indication of something that Redbox is interested in doing.” Redbox just wanted to get a feel for how people would react to them supplying such a service.

Netflix started their video streaming service in 2007. Their “Watch Instantly” movies were definitely slim pickings. As a Netflix member myself, I’ve noticed that selection is getting better as of late, but it still isn’t great. Hopefully, if Redbox continues with this idea they will provide a better selection of online material than Netflix has. A $3.95 per month unlimited streaming access would really put a dent in Netflix’s side, if Redbox really had a decent selection. To get unlimited streaming access with Netflix, you have to go up to the $8.99 per month plan.

One aspect of all of this that wasn’t discussed was which devices Redbox might stream to. Netflix already streams to three different video game systems, the Apple iPad, and very soon it will be streaming to the iPhone. The spokesman for Redbox said, “Redbox certainly understands that the entertainment model is continually evolving.”

It will be interesting to see where all this goes. All I know is that if Redbox comes out with a $3.95 per month streaming plan with even a half decent selection, I’m going to definitely be switching from Netflix.

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