Redbox Instant by Verizon, a joint venture between the kiosk DVD-rental company and the telecommunications giant, will launch a beta version of the new national streaming service later this month that will cost $8 a month, the companies said Wednesday.
Redbox Instant will compete with other streaming services, including Netflix and Amazon Prime. Comcast offers an Xfinity Streampix to cable-TV customers within its cable-TV franchise territory. Streampix is free to most triple-play Comcast customers but costs $4.99 a month as a stand-alone service.
Netflix, the largest of the streaming services that offers TV reruns and movies but no sports, has about 25 million U.S. subscribers - or more than Comcast's 22 million cable-TV customers - and an additional 4.3 million international users.
Redbox Instant will have about 5,500 movie titles, a spokeswoman for the venture said. People would be able to stream to laptops, smartphones or tablets. The company said the first month would be free.
As part of the subscription, customers will receive credits for four one-night rentals at 42,400 Redbox kiosks. Redbox rents about 58 million movies a month at those kiosks.
Through an agreement with EPIX, Redbox Instant subscribers will be able to stream new movie releases from Viacom, Lionsgate, and MGM in an early-release window, the company said.
"We are cautiously optimistic," Lowell McAdam, Verizon president and chief executive officer, said at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference on Dec. 4 about Redbox Instant. "Until you are out there commercial for six months or so you don't really know how to judge that. But I think, again, it gives us the kind of platform that we can build on going forward if over-the-top plays become far more relevant across the country."