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Verizon CEO: Redbox Instant won’t launch until early 2013

Despite recent reports, you shouldn’t be pinning your hopes on the debut of the much-touted Verizon-Redbox streaming media offering before the end of this year after all, with Verizon’s CEO suggesting that it’ll stay under wraps until early 2013 to ensure that everything is just right when we finally do get to play with it.

As recently as last week, there were reports circulating online that the potential Netflix competition with the somewhat unwieldy name of Redbox Instant by Verizon might be launching at some point this month (December 17 was the most recent date suggested) following a number of pushbacks from the originally-targeted August 2012 launch date. Talking to reporters on Tuesday, however, Verizon CEO and chairman Lowell McAdam suggested that we’re more likely to see it launch late in the first quarter of 2013, or possibly even the early part of the second quarter.

The reason for the delay, McAdam said, was that the service still has to undergo more testing before being ready for a public debut. During an appearance at the 40th Annual UBS Global Media and Communications Conference, he said that beta testing was currently scheduled to open up to select Verizon customers early next month. Currently, the service is in beta with Verizon employees, and McAdam reported that Verizon was “very pleased” with the progress of the service, and the partnership with Redbox. “It opens up a whole new market,” he said, adding that “We’re cautiously optimistic.”

According to earlier reports, Redbox Instant by Verizon aims to offer a similar service to Netflix, offering both streaming movies and physical disc rentals, but for a significantly cheaper price than the popular rental company: $6 per month for the cheapest package, against Netflix’s $7.99 (Like Netflix, Redbox plans to stagger the pricing with a tiered subscription format; the $6 per month will only offer streaming content, with the next package, $8 per month, allowing for streaming and the physical rental of 4 discs per month, and so on). Additionally, it’s believed that the service will go one step beyond Netflix and offer limited streaming rentals of recent DVD and BluRay releases to subscribers, a la the current iTunes model; those rentals, however, wouldn’t be covered in whatever existing subscription plan a customer has, and would require an additional fee, the amount of which is currently unclear. More details will, presumably, be forthcoming with the January debut of the Verizon subscriber public debut.

It’s hoped that Redbox Instant will be something that will drive an increase in subscriber uptick for Verizon’s FiOS Pay TV/broadband bundle, with McAdam telling reporters that there was “plenty of room to grow” in terms of subscriber numbers for the service, and that he hopes for increased momentum as soon as Redbox launches.