There's a new video streaming service, by Redbox and Verizon, coming to the Xbox 360, according to an announcement on the blog of Xbox Live gamer "Major Nelson," also known as Larry Hryb, Director of Programming at Microsoft.
Called "Redbox Instant," the upcoming subscription package which includes unlimited streaming, along with 4 one-night rental credits for those ubiquitous Redbox machines seen outside of grocery stores and gas stations nationwide, will be available for beta participation "in the coming days," said Hryb. The DVD+instant subscription costs $8 a month, while the Blu-ray+instant will run $9 a month.
The app for Xbox 360 will also allow non-subscribers to purchase and rent from Redbox Instant's library of digital movies. So far, this new video service looks to be only available for Xbox 360 users: "Xbox 360 is the exclusive gaming console launch partner for Redbox Instant by Verison," wrote Hryb. The key words there are "launch partner," for Sony and Nintendo users, allowing for the possibility that Redbox Instant will eventually be ported to all consoles.
How does Redbox Instant stack up compared to the dominant streaming service, Netflix?
Netflix streaming costs $8 a month as well, but they split their DVD mail service from the streaming service a couple of years ago. To get both streaming and DVD-by-mail, it costs $16. The lower price is just one attractive feature of Redbox Instant, the other being that you don't have to wait for the mail carrier to bring you your new DVD. Only four one-night-only credits is rather skimpy though, so if you really need a DVD-rental service, the Netflix DVD-only may still be the better option.
Reviews of Redbox Instant's beta streaming service have been mixed, with some reporting no glitches and others saying their movie buffered every few seconds. The movie selection is also not as strong as Netflix or Amazon Prime, and Redbox Instant offers no television shows currently. Of course, it's in beta, so glitches will be worked out, but given Netflix's lead-time in establishing partnerships with distribution companies like Disney, Redbox may never close the gap.