March 15, 2013, 3:37 PM

Redbox Instant goes live

The streaming video service also includes four DVD rentals per month.

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Streaming video service Redbox Instant by Verizon went live this week, allowing customers for the first time to access the venture’s movies over the Internet. The service, which costs $8 per month after a one-month free trial, includes unlimited access to all the titles in Redbox’s online library plus four DVD rentals given as credits that customers can redeem in one of the company’s more than 34,600 kiosks nationwide, it says.

Redbox Instant by Verizon is a joint venture between Redbox Automated Retail LLC and telecommunications firm Verizon Communications Inc. Redbox movies stream on most Android or Apple smartphones and tablets, Samsung Smart TVs and Blu-ray players, Microsoft’s Xbox 360 gaming consoles and most computer devices, with more options forthcoming, the company says.  “Today’s movie lover enjoys watching on all kinds of devices but finding the right movie, right now can be frustrating.  It doesn’t have to be this way,” says Shawn Strickland, CEO of Redbox Instant by Verizon. “Over the coming months we’ll continue adding devices, features and functionality to keep movie watching fun.”

Customers can search Redbox’s web site for movies available to stream with Redbox Instant subscriptions or as one-off streaming movies or downloads; they may also locate videos in kiosks by searching for them online. Customers who do not subscribe to Redbox Instant can pay a fee to stream videos in regular or high-definition (HD) or buy the digital version as a download, in regular format or HD. For example, a copy of “Power Rangers Samurai: A New Enemy (Vol. 2)” is available to rent over the Internet for $4.99, $5.99 in HD, or to buy for $11.99 or $14.99 in HD. Redbox says streaming rentals typically last 24 to 48 hours, with renewals available for no longer than 30 days. DVD rentals each last one night, with customers charged for each additional night until they return the disc to a kiosk.

Redbox Instant has 4,600 titles in its unlimited streaming library, with about 4,000 also available for rental without subscription and for purchase, the company says. That makes its library much smaller than that of its competitors, namely Netflix Inc., Amazon.com Inc. and Hulu, which each claim tens of thousands of available titles.

Amazon is No. 1 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide and Netflix is No. 9. Redbox is No. 527 in the Second 500 Guide.

In related news today, Hulu’s CEO Jason Kilar said he is leaving the company at the end of the month. He gave no reason, and Hulu declines to explain. Senior vice president of content Andy Forssell will take over as interim CEO until the company’s board selects a permanent replacement, Kilar says.  “Andy exemplifies the Hulu culture and has been central to Hulu’s journey, helping to grow this company from two content partners and no revenue to over 450 content partners and approximately $700 million revenue in 2012,” he says.

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