Redbox (s CSTR) has started to offer Blu-ray discs at 13,300 of its 23,000 its rental kiosks, the company announced today. Customers have to pay a slight premium for the discs, with rentals costing $1.50 a night, as opposed to the $1 rental price that Redbox is famous for. The company has announced that is going to expand the availability of Blu-ray discs to all of its kiosks by this fall.
Redbox hasn’t said yet how many Blu-ray titles it offers, and consumers can use the Redbox website to check which kiosks in their neighborhoods have Blu-ray rentals, but the site currently doesn’t offer any option to specifically search for or reserve Blu-ray titles. That means consumers will have to decide on the spot whether they’re willing to spend an extra $0.50 for the Blu-ray version of a movie.
Another challenge for Redbox could be that its kiosks can only offer limited inventory, with each kiosk storing up to 630 disks of up to 200 different movie titles. Introduce different formats to chose from, and the number of available titles will inevitably go down. Redbox seems to bank on the fact that eventually enough consumers will have Blu-ray players to make the choice between the formats obsolete. The company’s press release quoted numbers from the Digital Entertainment Group, estimating that there have been 19.4 million Blu-ray players sold in the U.S. so far.
Redbox also wants to extend its kiosk offering with an online streaming service will reportedly be unveiled this fall.
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