Redbox Instant hasn’t exactly lived up to its name so far. The combination DVD and streaming video service, jointly run by Coinstar, Inc. (NASDAQ:CSTR) and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ), took forever to get into customers’ hands. But after months of limited beta testing and a couple of launch delays, the wait for Instant is finally over.
And now that it’s taking on paying subscribers, the 30 million member question is: Just how well does the Redbox service stack up against Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX)‘s offering? The short answer is: not well.
Cheaper price: On the plus side, Redbox Instant has Netflix beat on price. For $8 a month, users can stream to their hearts’ content while enjoying four nights of rentals from one of their local DVD kiosks. You only get unlimited streaming from Netflix at that monthly price, with DVDs costing extra.
Video games: Redbox users also get a gaming bonus. They can spend their free DVD rentals on any of a host of popular console games that can be checked out from the company’s thousands of kiosks. Netflix doesn’t play in the video game market at all.
But that’s about where the close comparisons stop. Beyond video games and price, the two offerings are actually worlds apart.
Limited content: Redbox Instant’s selection just doesn’t compare. It has less than 5,000 titles available for streaming now. And those are mostly from the company’s content deal with Epix. Of course, Netflix and Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) both have deals with Epix too, along with dozens of other content owners.
By Netflix’s count last quarter, Redbox Instant carried just 12 of Netflix’s top 200 streaming titles. And those 12 movies were all available on Amazon’s Prime service as well. So Redbox streamers are getting a small subset of what Netflix and Amazon already offer.
No TV shows: And Redbox Instant is a movies-only service. That’s fine for movie lovers, but it leaves a huge amount of viewing possibilities on the table. We know that TV shows account for the majority of Netflix’s usage. Television series were good for two-thirds of all of the company’s streaming in the third quarter of last year.
By focusing on movies, Redbox Instant gains some brand clarity. But it loses any realistic shot at becoming the daily entertainment destination that Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) is for many of its subscribers. How many nights a week do you have time to watch an entire movie?
Limited devices: Redbox is also hampered by a small selection of devices that its customers can stream content from. It’s now available on Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT)‘s Xbox console, iOS and Android devices, and a handful of Samsung TVs. But that’s a far cry from the thousands of Internet connected devices that Netflix boasts, including all major consoles and nearly every smart TV and DVD player that’s been sold over the past few years.