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Redbox gives streaming another shot, enters testing phase

Redbox on-demand
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Redbox seems to have taken note of the saying, given its reported interest in launching another video streaming service less than two years after Redbox Instant, its joint attempt with Verizon, folded. The company is said to be working on a successor called Redbox Digital, and it’s now officially in its testing phase. 

“We are testing a potential new transactional digital VOD and EST offering, with a small subset of our customers, designed to complement our core kiosk rental business,” a company spokesperson told Variety via email. “As we test and learn from our customers, we will make evaluations that determine any future course of action.”

There’s now a new iPad app that lets you view this kind of content on your Apple tablet, and Redbox has updated its official terms of service, clarifying territorial and other usage restrictions for digital services. So, yeah, things are getting serious.

With Redbox’s revenue down over both last quarter and 2015 overall, the company has no doubt seen the writing on the wall when it comes to the hard-copy format. But according to the report, its approach to streaming this time around will be different; rather than offering subscriptions like Netflix and Hulu, Redbox Digital will offer on-demand videos for rentals or digital purchase, similar to iTunes, Vudu, Google Play, and others. Content will reportedly be viewable using connected devices like Chromecast and Roku, and customers will also be able to earn points with their rentals and purchases, just as they do with the existing loyalty program.

“Redbox continually looks for ways to enhance our customer experience,” wrote a company spokesman in a statement to Variety back in March. “For tens of millions of consumers, Redbox is their source for new release rentals without a subscription. As such, we regularly conduct tests of potential new offerings, that may or may not be brought to market, as part of our ongoing commitment to provide additional value.”

Of course, Redbox may still be scarred by its ill-fated Redbox Instant. The venture was plagued with multiple problems, including credit card fraud and a relatively small content library compared to its competitors. Additionally, its rivals had gotten a head start in creating original content, which has only increased in the last two years.

Redbox Digital may have chosen a better niche for itself this time around, but it still faces formidable competition. We’ll have to wait and see whether the second time is the charm.

Updated on 07-22-2016 by Lulu Chang: Redbox Digital enters testing phase

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