I was once a video store clerk. Then video stores died. Now the thing which replaced the video store, specifically Redbox, is also dying. All hail the unbeatable convenience and superior location of digital downloads and streaming video. Death to all physical media. Down with brick & mortar stores and kiosks. Embrace the inevitable Wall-E future of humanity. Embrace!
This (from Variety):
Redbox’s revenue for the fourth quarter of 2015 dropped 17%, to $407 million, as movie rentals plunged 24% year over year. For 2016, Outerwall expects Redbox rentals to decline 15%-20%, and the company plans to remove up to 2,000 underperforming kiosks after ending last year with 40,480.
Ah, man. You mean I might only be able to go to that Redbox in front of the drug store and not the one in front of the grocery store across the street. The sky? She’s a-fallin’.
The decline has been blamed on weak content, i.e., not enough good movies, as well as Redbox’s December 2014 price hike. Long term, the experts think Redbox is ultimately doomed:
“It’s a certainty that at some point consumers will no longer be renting movies out of Redbox kiosks,” says Piper Jaffray analyst Michael Olson. “It could be five years from now or 15 years from now. But at this point, it’s about managing the decline.”
Redbox should put that on a motivational poster: “Managing the Decline!”
The stock market is currently pummeling Outerwall, sending it to a six-year low, but some analysts think it’s an overraction, like Eric Wold of B. Riley & Co, “There’s a big delta between a buck fifty for a Redbox DVD and $6 or $7 for (a new release rental on) VOD. It’s going to be a huge cash-generating company for quite a while.”
Plus, the studios love Redbox since it is the biggest wholesale buyer of DVDs and Blu-Rays after Wal-Mart. Universal, Paramount, Sony, Warner Bros. and 20th Century Fox have all recently renewed licensing deals with the company. Disney’s the only significant holdout because of course they are.
Still, the bottom is going to fall out eventually. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but someday and for the rest of our lives we’ll no longer have anywhere to go to rent physical copies of movies. Damn you, technological progress and the curious whims of the market.
“Back in my day,” we’ll say, “you used to be able to drive down any street and find a magical red box which spit out movies for just a dollar and a quarter. For just a little bit more we could get something called a Blu-Ray. We didn’t have some endless queu of things we’d never have the time to watch. We had a list with a beginning and end, and we picked from that. Oh, it was a glorious time.”
“Hey everybody, an old man is talking!,” a nearby child will announce, forcing us to realize we weren’t actually talking to anyone in particular. Then we’ll proceed to tell them the story of how we turned cats against dogs.