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Verizon/Redbox Take a Swing at Netflix

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner

Welcome to today's broadband and cable news roundup

  • Redbox Instant By Verizon, set for a public beta test later this month, will start at $8 per month and provide access to a streaming library catering to "premium" movies from suppliers such as Epix, NBCUniversal LLC , Paramount Pictures and Sony Pictures. The subscription also includes four credits for one-night DVD rentals from a Redbox Automated Retail LLC kiosk. The starter price matches up with Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX)'s streaming-only plan, which provides access to a mix of new and old movies, but TV series as well. For an extra $1 per month, the Redbox/Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) service combo will let subscribers rent out Blu-ray discs.

    The full launch, which had been expected before the end of 2012, has been delayed until the first or second quarter of 2013 as the joint venture works out the kinks. Redbox Instant by Verizon has tapped Avail-TVN to deliver subscription and transactional studio fare. At the start, the service will stream movies to PCs, iOS and Android devices, Samsung Corp. Blu-ray players and LG Electronics Inc. (London: LGLD; Korea: 6657.KS) -connected TVs and Blu-ray players. It will also be available over the Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) TV platform. (See Verizon/Redbox Video Service Hits Pause Button .)

  • Verizon is also pushing a multi-screen project tied to its FiOS TV service. The company has launched a promo designed to push usage of video-on-demand (VoD) and "FlexView" titles, which include rights that allow users watch them on supported PCs, smartphones and tablets. Customers who rent or purchase three FlexView or VoD titles within a month will receive one free FlexView rental, with the caveat that they must redeem it within seven days of the purchase/rental of the third title.

  • SeaChange International Inc. (Nasdaq: SEAC) has hired ex-Motorola exec George Kajos to be the general manager of its platform business unit, where he'll head up development of the company's Adrenalin video back-office platform and Nitro user interface software for set-tops and mobile devices. Kajos comes on board after SeaChange moves ahead with a strategy to eliminate the position of a dedicated CTO -- longtime CTO Steve Davi recently left to join Synacor Inc. -- and have the heads of its three business units (platform, in-home and advertising) share those duties. (See More Changes Afoot at SeaChange.)

  • On the regulatory front, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules enforcing the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation (CALM) Act take effect today, putting forth that broadcasters and pay-TV operators ensure that the volume of commercials are no louder than the TV shows they're accompanying. Today is also the deadline for waiver requests, and at least 100 were on file as of Tuesday night, reports TV Technology. The report notes that the Act has two waiver provisions: one for financial hardships (if they need more time to raise the capital to buy the equipment necessary to comply); and another for "good cause" that's up to the FCC's discretion.

    — Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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    User Rank: Light Sabre
    3/15/2013 | 3:47:39 PM
    re: Verizon/Redbox Take a Swing at Netflix
    heard the commercial launch was embarassing
    User Rank: Light Sabre
    2/25/2013 | 2:16:15 PM
    re: Verizon/Redbox Take a Swing at Netflix
    I agree. Not compelling enough to drop Netflix or pay yet another monthly fee for pretty much the same content I can get elsewhere. Even if this fails internally, VZ won't let it fail publically. They constantly pour money into little side projects liked VDMS and Streaming and keep them afloat to avoid embarrassment in the marketplace because they have the cash to do so. -áCompanies like Netflix and others focus on their core business and streamline to make a profit. VZ still runs things like a telco and they don't profit except wireless. Netflix is embedded in subscribers devices and it just works and works well, why would I switch to save 2 bucks a month?
    Jeff Baumgartner
    Jeff Baumgartner,
    User Rank: Light Beer
    1/10/2013 | 4:00:11 AM
    re: Verizon/Redbox Take a Swing at Netflix

    Thoughts on the initial Redbox/VZ strategy to focus on fresh films? one of the reasons i like Netflix is that i can gorge myself on TV series when I find one I like or get referred to, like Breaking Bad. I'll be interested to see what the service looks like when the full launch comes early next year, but what i see coming now would not excite me enough to drop Netflix or add yet another subscription package... even with the additional DVD kiosk rentals. JB

    Jeff Baumgartner
    Jeff Baumgartner,
    User Rank: Light Beer
    1/10/2013 | 4:00:10 AM
    re: Verizon/Redbox Take a Swing at Netflix

    Good one to bring up. That will give Netflix some leverage down the road. in the meantime, i'll be curious to see how the new Netflix originals like House of Cards affects subscription retention and aquisition.  JB

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