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When I first heard of Redbox Instant it reminded me a lot of Blockbuster’s membership plan they created in response to Netflix. At the time, Blockbuster offered the same DVD-by-mail service as Netflix but took advantage of their brick and mortar stores and offered a certain number of in-store exchanges/rentals as well. So in a sense, you had the best of both worlds—DVD-by-mail rentals and in-store rentals for one membership price.
Redbox Instant, a joint venture between Redbox and Verizon Communications Inc., is pretty much doing the same thing except they are competing more now with the online streaming side of Netflix. In other words, with both Redbox Instant and Netflix you pay roughly $8/month for unlimited streaming of movies from their respective libraries. However, with Redbox Instant you also get 4 DVD credits included with your membership.
You can use these DVD credits to get free one-night rentals at the already-in-place Redbox kiosks spread throughout your city. All you need to do is indicate you are using one of your credits when reserving a movie online or directly at the kiosk.
In theory, this overcomes the one flaw with Netflix—the fact that Netflix’s streaming library has mostly older movies while the newest releases are only available through the old-fashioned DVD-by-mail service. If you want both you’ll have to pay $8/month for each of them.
With Redbox Instant on the other hand, you still have the same old selection of movies but you can watch up to 4 new releases per month on DVD by using your credits at the kiosk. All for just one payment of $8/month.
Here’s the problem though. Redbox Instant is way late to the online streaming game so thus they have even a smaller selection of movies than Netflix. Plus, Netflix has really started to dominate in television shows which is a primary reason many people subscribe. On top of that, Netflix has started flourishing with original, exclusive programming with shows like Arrested Development (season 4), House of Cards and Orange is the New Black.
So now you have to think carefully about which is more important to you—the selection of online streaming movies; the selection of online streaming television shows, original/exclusive programming or access to new releases on DD. It’s pretty much a mess.
If you want to try Redbox Instant for yourself, they are offering a 1-month free trial right now. I signed up one month ago and only watched one streaming movie (there were others I would have watched but I had already seen them on Netflix). But I did use all 4 of my DVD credits for a handful of new releases.