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In the March 2009 issue of Consumer Reports [subscription required], readers were surveyed about their satisfaction with DVD rental companies. In the kiosk category, Redbox scored the highest of all providers.

Redbox received top scores for price and convenience, something we all know very well here. The overall winner, though, was Netflix. The big loser: Video On Demand (VOD).

VOD got low marks due to limited selection and the fact that you generally only have 24 hours to watch the movie. That sounds a lot like Redbox, doesn’t it? So, it seems it VOD movies only cost $1, Redbox might be in trouble.

Do these results surprise you at all? What does Redbox need to do to beat out its larger competitors like Netflix and Blockbuster? Share your thoughts below.

17 Responses to “Redbox Gets High Marks in Consumer Reports Survey”

  1. Visitor [Join Now]
    Davis Freeberg [visitor]

    Somehow I don’t think we’ll ever see .99 VOD catch on in popularity. Amazon Unbox sometimes offers titles at those prices, but it’s almost always bad content people wouldn’t have rented otherwise.

    In fact, I think that protecting VOD from .99 cent pricing is what Universal’s bullying is all about. They don’t like that Redbox can squeeze a profit by taking advantage of the first sale doctrine. Since companies that provide VOD don’t actual “own” the video files, they have less flexibility in how low they can price their product.

    • Administrator
      Michael [administrator]

      @Davis Freeberg:

      I think you are right about the current VOD business – I do understand the economics of first-sale doctrine vs. licensing. But, what if they took a hybrid approach?

      Say they showed an ad at the beginning – and possibly the end – of the movie (DVDs do it all the time, now), and then also sell it for 99 cents. Then, they could sell adspace, and the ads could be changed as often as desired.

      This could possibly makeup for lost revenue on the rental price, create good opportunities for advertisers, and not really annoy consumers all that much (since they are not being “interrupted” in the middle of their movie).


  2. Visitor [Join Now]
    Davis Freeberg [visitor]

    I think that a hybrid model would be tough because once people pay money for something (even if it’s just a buck), they feel like it should be advertising free. It doesn’t mean we won’t see someone try it, just that I doubt it’d take off with consumers. More likely we’ll see a 100% ad approach for VOD like Time Warner’s Start Over service or what Hulu has been building. If you break it down, I think that people who rent DVDs are a different audience then the people who gravitate to these kinds of services, but in the long run Redbox will need to address this issue. Once enough households go digital it will get increasingly difficult for them to continue to rent discs. They’ve got the advantage of the first sale doctrine, but without a digital equivalent, it will be hard for them to control the prices they want to charge their customers in the future.

  3. Visitor [Join Now]
    Mike [visitor]

    The only improvement I can think of is more encouragement for people to reserve movies online ahead of time (oh, and add the ability to reserve online with promo codes). It really saves time and cuts down on waiting in line.

    I was at the local Albertson’s on a recent Saturday afternoon (bad timing, I’m sure, as the weekend is probably their busiest time) and a group of people literally spent about 10-15 minutes monopolizing both Redbox machines, looking at every single title, discussing what they wanted to rent, and ultimately making no decision. About a dozen people were in line by the time they stepped aside. I, of course, knew exactly what I wanted and was done within 20-30 seconds. I really wanted to let them know they could’ve viewed the website ahead of time to make their decision, but I couldn’t think of any way to say it that wouldn’t come across as rude or annoyed (well, yes, I WAS annoyed).

    Maybe a quick screen at the start explaining the time savings of checking the website first, or better yet, pop it up if the person is taking more than a couple of minutes. Or maybe big, bold lettering on the outside of the machine. Heck, I’d even go for a higher price for renting without an online reservation – $1.50 if you just walk up (same as DVDPlay), or $1.00 if you reserve online. And advertise the heck out of that fact.

    Of course, I’ll bet few people would pay attention, and any such measure would have little if any effect. Sigh. I’ll just have to stick to renting on Mondays with the weekly codes, when there’s nobody there. ;)

    Otherwise, yeah, the high rating doesn’t surprise me. Redbox is the cheapest kiosk I know of, and actually has per-machine inventory on their website, which is such a great feature for those of us who use it.

    • Visitor [Join Now]
      tigger71 [visitor]

      It would be great wouldnt it if we could reserve our promos. But i always let people go ahead of me if theres just one. then i pass along the promo to the next.

    • Member [Join Now]

      when was the last time you rented from DVDPlay???
      Their price has been $1 for quite some months now.

  4. Visitor [Join Now]
    Davis Freeberg [visitor]

    I bet 90% of the time waiting in line is because of people browsing. Reservations from the net is a great idea, but because Redbox is so much of a convenience item, it wouldn’t completely eliminate the problem. Maybe we need a new feature where Redbox raises the price to $2 a night if you take more then 3 minutes to make your selection ;)

  5. Member [Join Now]

    online reserving, more than one copy of each movie (especially big hits), offer it for two days instead of one…

  6. Visitor [Join Now]
    Gooner [visitor]

    What about a separate Redbox for Online pick-ups and DVD Return? Returns take a few seconds but if I have to wait in line that would be a five minute wait. Same thing with online pick-ups.

  7. Visitor [Join Now]
    SocksMustBeWorn [visitor]

    The only improvement necessary right now is to make returning dvds easier since each time I return a dvd it takes multiple tries, turning the barcode several times, for it to work, while people wait behind me.

    • Member [Join Now]
      Car [car]

      DVD bar code, it was facing UP when you took it out, leave the holder open while you watch the movie. Place back in holder with bar code UP, same as when you took it out.

      Now place the arrow pointing toward the redbox return slot. Watch the arrow, if you can see it then it’s being inserted the correct way, no need to flip it over because you can see the arrow.

      Watch the arrow. It points the way into the slot.

      If it’s pointing the other way, maneuver it so that it points into the slot.

      Keep your eye on the arrow.

    • Member [Join Now]

      I’ve NEVER had to try multiple times to return a dvd. It ALWAYS works the first time, i don’t know what you’re doing wrong but returning a dvd couldn’t be easier. NO improvements necessary!

  8. Visitor [Join Now]
    Rhonda [visitor]

    The way to beat out Netflix and Blockbuster is to exploit their weaknesses. Netflix has a terrific selection but it is poor at delivering new releases. If there are several new releases in a week, they’ll usually send me one on my list and then notify me I’m on wait for the others. So I use Redbox to get the new releases I’m waitlisted on from Netflix. If Redbox doesn’t have it, I’ll go to DVDPlay but I prefer Redbox because of the ease of the online reservation.

    Blockbuster’s weakness is their poor customer service. I refuse to do business with them again because of some bad experiences. When I called Redbox for a problem, on the other hand, I was able to get my problem fixed very quickly.

    So the key for Redbox’s continued growth, imo, is for them to stock all the major new releases (I understand about not getting Universal on time or Weinstein Co. releases) and to make sure that their customer service remains at a high level.

  9. Visitor [Join Now]
    tanyetta [visitor]

    I want redbox home delivery :)

  10. Member [Join Now]

    I think if they offer Blue-Ray movies they will have the obvious edge over VOD as I do not believe digital Blue-Ray is possible yet.

  11. Visitor [Join Now]
    Fred [visitor]

    Whoever voted for Redbox hasn’t had to wait in line ten minutes just to return a movie. Get a separate slot for video returns.