Redbox Instant by Verizon, a movie-streaming site by Coinstar and Verizon, ended testing and began commercial service Thursday.
Joining a small but growing group of companies that compete in the nascent streaming business, Redbox Instant is seeking to differentiate itself by mixing streaming with its network of 35,000 kiosks nationwide that offer newly released DVDs. But with only 4,600 streaming titles to start, its library is much smaller than more established competitors such as Netflix, Amazon and Hulu Plus.
For $8 a month, customers can stream movies without a monthly limit and receive four credits to rent DVDs at its kiosks. For $9, customers get streaming and four credits for Blu-ray rentals.
Verizon and Coinstar, the parent company of Redbox, announced the venture last year and started testing it in December by issuing a code for customers who registered on RedboxInstant.com.
The company removed the code requirement Thursday, but Redbox Instant CEO Shawn Strickland says it's still adding functions and devices that will embed its streaming player.
The service has an app for smartphones and tablets that run on the Apple iOS and Google Android mobile operating systems. It's also available on some Samsung TVs and Blu-ray players and Xbox 360.
Richard Greenfield, an analyst at BTIG Research who tried the service, noted in a company blog post in January that Redbox is missing some exclusive titles that would draw customers away from competitors.
Most of its "higher-quality titles" come from Epix, whose library of movies is also available on Netflix and Amazon Prime, according to Greenfield. "When you see the Redbox Instant home screen, many of the titles cannot be streamed instantly as part of your monthly subscription," he wrote. "You either have to go to the kiosk or buy/rent them individually."
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