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Once Redbox Instant Locks Up, So Does Your Content

Redbox Instant, the subscription video streaming service that launched last year in conjunction with Verizon, is closing its doors at the end of the day, today, October 7, because “it was not as successful as we hoped it would be.” The service launched just over a year ago, allowing consumers to stream on-demand movies and TV shows for a monthly fee, rent or purchase digital movies in a hosted digital locker, and locate and reserve rental discs in Redbox kiosks. Many of the monthly subscription options also included credits for kiosk rentals.

Redbox Instant’s demise reinforces a lesson about digital content management, and consumers should take note.

Redbox Instant attempted to compete with significantly more popular and entrenched services like Netflix, but its small library of subscription content could barely compete with Amazon Prime Instant. The service never seemed to take advantage of Verizon’s relationship with content licensees, which we had hoped they’d leverage for exclusive, early access to titles. Ultimately, it amounted to little more than everyone else was offering. How they failed to see that at launch remains a mystery.

So Now What?

When they say shutting down, they mean shutting down. At midnight PDT on October 7, Redbox Instant online services will go offline. As of that time, customers will be unable to

  • access on-demand subscription content
  • reserve movies at a local Redbox kiosk
  • rent or purchase online videos
  • watch rented or purchased online videos
  • download purchased videos
  • use Redbox Instant mobile or set-top box apps
  • redeem accumulated Redbox kiosk credits

Subscribers will receive a refund for the unused portion of paid subscription fees and unwatched rentals, but at this point, there is no plan for purchased video content. At one point, Redbox had announced a partnership with UltraViolet, but nothing ever became of that. According to Redbox Instant’s Q&A about the shutdown, “We’re exploring options for customers who purchased electronic versions of on-demand movies. You’ll receive an email from us shortly, or you can check back here for an update in about two weeks. We appreciate your patience.” So for now, you’re out of luck.

Redbox Instant’s demise, which comes on the heals of many others with smaller coffers, reinforces a lesson about digital content management, and consumers should take note. This shutdown (again) raises the question, “can consumers buy DRMed content with the confidence that they’ll retain access to that content for the long term?” For now, the answer is “no.”

Check Redbox Instant’s shutdown notice page for more information.


About the author

Richard Gunther

Richard is a product experience consultant with a life-long interest in consumer electronics. He has been immersed in smart home tech for decades now and hosts The DMZ's home automation podcast, Home: On and co-hosts Entertainment 2.0 with Josh Pollard. Richard looks at products through an experience lens, always seeking the right mix of utility and delight.