How Is Redbox Still in Business?


In an era when stream­ing your con­tent is all the rage and increas­ing­ly becom­ing the norm, the idea of using some sort of phys­i­cal media to watch a movie, TV series or doc­u­men­tary seems also like a bad busi­ness plan from the 1980s. However, people do it. Heck, I have a huge Blu-Ray and Ultra HD 4K Blu-Ray movie col­lec­tion.

But recent­ly, I stopped buying hard-copy discs. It hap­pened quite nat­u­ral­ly, over a long period of time. The reason was quite obvi­ous: stream­ing ser­vices, at least for me, had bridged the gap in terms of pic­ture and audio qual­i­ty where I did not miss or need to spend as much as $30 for a disc that might give me a slight­ly better expe­ri­ence. Honestly, just over time, stream­ing became good enough, the selec­tion kept grow­ing, and I stopped look­ing to disc for­mats to fill my family’s con­tent-view­ing needs. It was that simple.

But what about com­pa­nies that still make their living off phys­i­cal discs? Take, for exam­ple, Redbox. It was a great idea: put small kiosks all over the United States, and for a small fee, you get a new movie for a night. Before the days of stream­ing and at a time when cable TV prices kept going up, it seemed like a smart choice. It remind­ed me of the days when I used to rent VHS tapes (not I am really dating myself, yikes). It is con­ve­nient, cheap, and now with Redbox adding video game rentals (at least, for awhile) and Blu-Ray discs, the com­pa­ny has cre­at­ed new ways to increase rev­enue, which could be help­ful.

But is that enough to keep them in busi­ness? From my per­spec­tive, unless Redbox does some­thing quite rad­i­cal, the com­pa­ny will be gone by 2025 — if not sooner.

The biggest chal­lenge for Redbox is that phys­i­cal media is dying. For exam­ple, CNBC reporter Sarah Whitten recent­ly point­ed out that DVD sales have plum­met­ed an astound­ing 86 per­cent since 2008 where­as stream­ing ser­vices have seen sales jump 1,231 per­cent since 2011. Blu-Ray sales are also declin­ing fast as well. Ultra HD 4K Blu-Ray disc sales also seem to be in trou­ble.

The good news is the com­pa­ny seems to see the upcom­ing chal­lenges and is trying to get into the stream­ing game before it’s too late. Many of its movies can now be rented online through a video-on-demand plat­form with Redbox even offer­ing a new free stream­ing ser­vice that is sup­port­ed by adver­tis­ers. Will all of this be enough to keep the com­pa­ny afloat? Considering the com­pe­ti­tion from Netflix, the new Disney+ ser­vice and others, all I can say is that I wish them luck.

Harry J. Kazianis serves as a Senior Director at the Center for the National Interest and Executive Editor of their pub­lish­ing arm, the National Interest. In the past, Harry served as Editor-In-Chief of The Diplomat and was a part of the for­eign policy advi­so­ry team of U.S. Senator Ted Cruz’s 02016 U.S. Presidential Campaign.  His work and ideas have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, Fox News, CNBC, USA Today, The Week, The Hill, the American Conservative and many other out­lets across the polit­i­cal spec­trum. Harry enjoys writ­ing about tech­nol­o­gy issues and prod­ucts from a real-world per­spec­tive, having pre­vi­ous­ly worked in the telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions indus­try from 2000 – 2011. You can follow him (or yell at him) on Twitter: @Grecianformula.

Source: National Interest

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