RedBox Instant vs Netflix Can Verizon stream with the best of them

first_imgWhile there’s nothing stopping you from using multiple video streaming services, chances are that you would prefer to pay one monthly fee and get the best possible service. While RedBox has made a name for itself as a Netflix competitor when it comes to physical DVDs, their new on-demand streaming service could put the company in the running as a complete video solution, despite Netflix’s huge head-start.As you probably know, RedBox is known for it’s conveniently located, DVD-dispensing kiosks. These ATM-like terminals exist in convenience stores and supermarkets around the US and, using them, the company has gained a solid following. Using physical locations might be great for a small set of users, but nothing is more convenient than streaming video, so RedBox is getting into the game and competing with the likes of Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Instant.What is RedBox Instant?RedBox Instant is designed to be a streaming service that combines the company’s existing customer base with the content library that Verizon has built into their FIOS on-demand service. RedBox Instant — which is still in beta — is designed to handle both streaming and physical rentals, with a set number of RedBox rentals included in the monthly service rate. By adding a digital streaming component to their business model, RedBox becomes the only service to compete directly with Netflix on both fronts as Blockbuster shut down their rental kiosks.So, in theory, the two services are similar, but who should get your streaming video dollars?Content availabilityIt doesn’t really matter how good your app is, or how inexpensive, if you can’t deliver the content users want, you’re dead in the water. For the most part, users are interested in movies as soon as they are available, TV shows the day after they air, and a wealth of child-friendly content. And it doesn’t hurt to have a healthy backlog of popular movies and television shows to encourage users to spend a weekend having a movie marathon or TV series binge. (Nothing like catching up on two seasons of Mad Men or Breaking Bad from Friday to Sunday…)Netflix offers a massive library of child-friendly content, as well as movies and TV shows. The service is continually trying to offer more next day airing of prime time television shows, though it is often accused of lagging behind when it comes to new movies hitting the service. If you enjoy catching a whole TV series all at once, or if you find yourself needing to watch every Quentin Tarantino movie, Netflix has you covered.RedBox’s physical DVD service is top notch, especially when it comes to delivering movies the same day they are released in stores, but their new streaming service lacks just about everything. It’s shelves are barely enough to fill entire pages when searching through genres. And while there’s a section for TV shows it seems the content hasn’t quite made it there yet. It’s unclear whether or not the content is missing as a result of Verizon not yet plugging in their FIOS service, but for whatever reason the digital service lags well behind their physical offerings.Again, RedBox is still in beta and we do expect things to get better. We’ll update this article as time goes on and the library expands.Netflix app vs. RedBox Instant appApps for video streaming services must A) make it simple for users manage their watching queue B) make it absurdly easy for users to watch video C) allow for quick, convenient content discovery D) be available everywhere, so no matter what I am using I can just pick up a remote, controller, or keyboard and pick up where I left off.That might all sounds like a tall order, but Netflix has pioneered these very features with their service. RedBox implements a much of the same, but offers a different approach to many of these features.In app format, Netflix places a premium on being able to do very little other than access streaming video. The homepage for all of their apps (Android, iOS, Xbox, PS3, etc.) are shelves of content, designed to show you what you have recently watched, what you have put in your queue, and related content you may find interesting. There’s not a lot in the way of controls or settings outside of volume and adding content to your queue. The design is incredibly simple, and functions exactly as you would expect.There are a few downsides though, especially when trying to watch television shows. Right now, on touch-enabled hardware, tapping the cover of a video immediately starts playback. This is great if you’re starting a new series or a movie, but if you are searching for a specific episode it can be tedious.RedBox’s app is more mechanical, allowing access to content restriction by rating and more settings for the quality of the stream. The app gives you information about your entire account, including how many credits you have for physical rentals. Since Netflix has tried pretty hard to separate your physical experience and your streaming experience, you won’t find those things in their app.RedBox is currently only available on Android an iOS, however, and doesn’t even currently support a browser based streaming experience. As RedBox continues to evolve their app experience, users may find they appreciate the more mechanical feel to the app experience as it presents a “one stop shop” for their entire service.PricingWhile overall content may be the most important thing, it’s hard to overlook a good price. RedBox is able to leverage their own userbase with the weight of Verizon FIOS to create a large audience overnight, where Netflix has built their audience from the ground up. In the past, Netflix has caught a lot of nasty comments for adjusting their pricing plans and separating their services. RedBox is able to benefit from those experiences and possibly even undercut Netflix in this regard.The current pricing plan for Netflix is $7.99 per month. You are offered unlimited streaming and one DVD out at a time sent to you by mail. If you want Blu-Ray discs, it’s an additional $2 per month. The service is restricted to a single device streaming at a time, and if you’ve never tried the service before you can get the first month of the service for free. There are no contracts, and you can cancel the service any time.RedBox offers their service for $8 per month, which includes unlimited streaming and four DVD rentals at any RedBox kiosk. If you would like to rent a Blu-Ray, it costs you an additional dollar. If you want to rent more than four DVDs each month, you pay the kiosk price for the DVD rental. You can choose to rent these four DVDs whenever you like, even all at once if you choose, but you can only keep the rental for 24 hours without incurring additional charges. RedBox is expected to announce a streaming only plan for $6 per month, but those plans have not been officially announced.Netflix vs. RedBox Instant: And the winner is…If for no other reason than available content, Netflix wins my vote. If you are a RedBox kiosk user, the four credits per month may be enough to sway you until Verizon drops some real content into the Instant service. If you’re the type to get most of your digital content from streaming services, I think it will be a long time before anyone would seriously consider switching from Netflix to RedBox.last_img read more