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Redbox Joins Crowded Free Streaming Market

(Image credit: Redbox)

Redbox, the company known for those ubiquitous DVD rental kiosks situated outside 7-11 stores, super markets and other retail locations, is throwing its hat into the crowded ad-supported, free-to-consumer streaming arena.

Launching Tuesday, Redbox Free Live TV isn’t so much an “AVOD” platform in that its channels are live and linear, much like those of ViacomCBS’ ad-supported Pluto TV. Only a portion of the  content is on-demand, with the bulk of it presented through channels, like traditional TV, but streamed. 

There are three Redbox-branded channels: Redbox Comedy, Redbox Rush and Redbox Spotlight, each packaging movies and TV shows, with Rush themed around action-adventure genre titles and Spotlight including a curated selection. Titles originate from a range of studio partners, Redbox said, but a lot of them come from Lionsgate, which is described in Redbox’s press release a “key strategic launch partner for programming content.”

Third party channels include Unsolved Mysteries, Forensic Files, USA Today, NowThis, Dove Channel, American Classics, Comedy Dynamics, Maverick Movies, Filmhub, Fail Army and People are Awesome. 

Owned by private equity firm Apollo Global Management, Redbox controls the bulk of a DVD rental kiosk business that saw a nearly 20% revenue decline to around $207 million in 2019, according to the Digital Entertainment Group

For a company with an established brand and ties to major studios, transitioning to an ad-supported model would seem to make sense. It’s a crowded market these days, with Roku Channel, Amazon’s IMDB TV, Pluto TV and Tubi, just to name a few free-to-consumer streaming platforms, fighting for audience share and ad dollars. But with Tubi among those consistently reporting recent growth, it’s certainly not a saturated market. 

“Redbox has built one of the most trusted brands in entertainment by consistently delivering value, choice and convenience to our millions of customers,” said Galen Smith, Redbox CEO, in a statement. “We are expanding our reach to the masses by providing every U.S. consumer access to entertainment – whether that’s at one of our more than 41,000 kiosks, streaming On Demand or streaming Free Live TV.”

Notably, it's not the first time Redbox has tried to pivot into streaming, however. In 2012, it partnered with the No. 1 U.S. wireless carrier to launched subscription streaming platform Redbox Instant by Verizon, but the service was out of the market by 2014.