Making good on a promise it made in January at CES, Redbox on May 22 announced the launch of 4K Ultra HD rentals in six test markets.
4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Discs rent for $2.50 per night, 50 cents higher than the rental rate for regular Blu-ray Discs (DVDs are $1.75). The test is rolling out across more than 2,500 kiosks in Los Angeles, Seattle, Austin, Detroit, Miami, and New York City.
“This is a major move for Redbox as we focus on expanding consumer access to home entertainment options across price points and formats,” said Galen Smith, CEO of Redbox. “As the popularity of 4K content increases and pricing of 4K hardware decreases, we’re excited to offer the best viewing experience at the best price for 4K Blu-ray discs.”
Initially, four high-profile action films will be available for rent in the six test markets: Black Panther from Walt Disney/Marvel, The Commuter from Lionsgate, Warner’s The Matrix and The Martian from 20th Century Fox.
“We’re starting with a mix of new and catalog titles, so consumers can rent new movies in all available disc formats or go back and experience The Matrix and The Martian in a new way,” Smith said.
New releases and popular catalog titles will be added regularly, and the number of titles and copies will vary by kiosk and location.
“As we go forward, we will try to add movies if not every week, then close to every week,” Smith said. “Certain titles are not being made on 4K Ultra HD because there isn’t enough demand — 12 Strong, for example, wasn’t made in 4K Ultra HD — so as we start to grow the business with the studios, it’s a great way to partner together and hopefully allow more movies to be made in 4K Ultra HD.”
“Redbox has a history of supporting consumer adoption of new technologies and elevating the quality of the viewing experience,” added Ash Eldifrawi, chief marketing and customer experience officer at Redbox. “Our nightly rental model makes the ultimate viewing experience a great deal that’s more accessible to consumers.”
The 4K UHD test adds to Redbox’s recent rollout of Nintendo Switch video game rentals in six markets nationwide: San Antonio, Portland, Seattle, Nashville, Denver and Salt Lake City.
In December 2017, the company announced Redbox On Demand. The service complements the company’s deal-driven, new-release offering at kiosks and broadens Redbox’s selection of movies and TV shows via transactional video on demand (VOD) and electronic sell-through (EST).
All Redbox rentals, including 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray discs, can be returned to any Redbox location. Consumers can visit www.redbox.com to learn more about the test and required hardware, including the option to watch on 4K UHD-enabled game consoles.
The Redbox 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray rental test comes as players are coming down in price. Best Buy recently began advertising a Magnavox model for $79.99, down from $199.99.
According to DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group, sales of 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Discs in the first quarter of this year were up 130% from the first quarter of 2017, accounting for nearly 12% of total Blu-ray Disc spending.
In the first quarter of 2018, 4K UHD TV penetration reached nearly 35 million U.S. households and 4K UHD players are now in more than million U.S. homes. Notably, more than 1 million 4K UHD players were sold in Q1 2018 alone, representing one-third of all Blu-ray Disc player sales in the quarter and an increase of 58% from Q1 2017.”
Consumers now have more than 300 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray titles available for viewing on Ultra HD Blu-ray players and enabled game consoles and 438 4K Ultra HD Digital titles, DEG reported.
Smith said he hopes that Redbox kiosk availability of 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray titles will help transition the format from the early adopters to mainstream audiences.
“Obviously it is the very best experience for an at-home opportunity to consume content, so we are giving our customers another choice,” Smith said. “And by having this format available in our kiosks, it helps to validate it. We want to help the studios take it from a niche product to a mainstream product.”
Smith said he also hopes to aid in the educational effort and alleviate consumer confusion.
“Right now, it’s a little confusing in terms of what you need,” he said. “You need a 4K Ultra HD disc and a 4K Ultra HD TV, and you also need a 4K Ultra HD player. And by us being in the market and being able to communicate with a very movie-loving consumer, we can expand the market.”