Redbox Instant 'now open for business'

Redbox Instant by Verizon (NYSE: VZ), the joint venture between Coinstar and Verizon and the latest over-the-top play to challenge Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX), is "open for business," according to CEO Shawn Strickland.

The company CEO told GigaOM's Janko Roettgers that the launch, which follows a three-month closed beta test, doesn't necessarily mean the service is out to challenge Netflix. Instead, he said, it's a challenge to a model Netflix has been slowly abandoning: the video rental business.

"It's a disc plus offering," Strickland told the publication. "It clearly starts with movies."

Netflix started that way as well, but of late has been migrating into the original content business with the highly hyped "House of Cards" and "Arrested Development" series.

Redbox Instant's plan is to give subscribers access to 4,600 subscription titles and four Redbox DVD rentals for a monthly subscription of $8. In addition, there's a plan to offer 4,000 movies for digital rental or purchase for an additional fee. The plan, Strickland told GigaOM, was so popular in beta that tens of thousands of customers stuck around to be real subscribers.

"We think that the over-the-top space will evolve very similarly to the cable and network space," he said.

As for adding original content, which Netflix has already started to do and which premium cable networks like HBO and Showtime have found helpful in garnering more subscribers, that might happen down the road for Redbox Instant by Verizon--or it might not, he said, calling speculation "really premature."

The might-happen element, though, comes into play with Strickland's add-on comment that "[f]rom an industry perspective, there is a clear force in that direction."

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