Covered on GigaOm earlier today, information found within the help section for Redbox Instant beta testers seems to point to a public launch date for the streaming video service around Monday, December 17. While a Bloomberg report a few months ago indicated that Verizon and Coinstar were pushing for a vague pre-Christmas launch, the details included within the help section points out that beta testers won’t be able to access physical movie rentals included with one of the subscription packages until December 17, 2012.
Regarding subscription prices, the cheapest Redbox Instant streaming video package starts at $6 per month and includes movies such as Rango, Thor, Iron Man 2 and The Killers. The next step up in subscription plans is currently priced at $8 per month and includes four DVD rentals per month at Redbox locations in addition to access to Redbox Instant.
However, it’s unclear if that subscription plan also includes Blu-ray movies or video games. Movie rental credits do not roll over and must be used before expiring at the end of the month. However, subscribers will be able to reserve movies at Redbox locations using a mobile application or the Redbox Instant site.
Similar to a service like iTunes or Vudu, Redbox Instant will also offer video-on-demand rentals for recently released movies. Hypothetically, if a nearby Redbox location is out of a particular film, the Redbox Instant user could rent the movie through the streaming service.
However, it’s likely that would be significantly more expensive than using a credit at a Redbox location or even paying full price to rent a DVD for one night. Rentals start at 99 cents, but are likely to be in line with prices on other online movie rental services.
In order to deliver streaming video to customers, Redbox Instant copies Netflix’s model and utilizes Microsoft’s Silverlight within the Web interface. Beyond the Web, Xbox 360 owners will be able to download an application to use the service. However, there’s no indication that PlayStation 3 or Wii U owners will be able to download a Redbox Instant application at launch. Redbox Instant will also be available on iOS and Android mobile devices as well as specific televisions and Blu-ray players manufactured by Samsung. Both the $6 and $8 per month subscription plans allow the user to utilize Redbox Instant on five different devices per account.
While it’s highly unlikely that the content library on Redbox Instant at launch will be able to compete with Netflix or even Amazon Instant Video’s offerings, the inclusion of physical rentals in one of the Redbox Instant subscription plans could potentially force Netflix to rethink the 2011 decision to split up DVD rentals from the Netflix streaming video service. However, this would require a significant amount of users dropping Netflix’s DVD rental service in favor of a monthly subscription plan at their local Redbox machine.
Subscription prices currently available to beta users of Redbox Instant could easily change prior to launch. In addition, it’s possible that the management team behind Redbox Instant could offer additional subscription packages to Redbox users that want more than four credits per month. Neither Coinstar or Verizon have released any official comment on these leaked details about the Redbox Instant streaming service.