�shedding any tears over the passing of Blockbuster? In the short term, Redbox will likely pick up some displaced Blockbuster customers, but the company has to see the writing on the wall for its primary business model, much as Virgin Megastores couldn't have been too excited to see Tower Records close its doors, knowing its own fate was being sealed. Redbox is trying to keep itself relevant in this new streaming age. In partnership with Verizon, the company has launched the Redbox Instant streaming service
, which is still in beta as I write this. For $8 per month, you get unlimited streaming, as well as four one-night credits per month to be applied at any Redbox kiosk rental. The service also adds a Premium Video on Demand option, akin to the pay-per-use rental options from iTunes, VUDU
, and Amazon. The pay-per-use VOD route provides earlier access to big-ticket movie releases than the subscription services do, usually the same day as the DVD release. It's worth noting that the rental price for a Redbox VOD title is higher than that of a physical Redbox disc rental. You can stream Redbox Instant to your computer or to the free iOS/Android app; also, Samsung, LG, Roku, Xbox, PlayStation, and Google TV have added a Redbox Instant app to their Web packages.
As our disc-rental options dwindle, I can't help but wonder how it will affect Ultra HD
content delivery. The first crop of Ultra HD source devices, like Sony's FMP-X1 and the RedRay player, are download services, but we're being told that a disc-based Ultra HD format is coming. Will there be any place to rent these UHD discs to watch on our new UHD TVs, or will we only have the option to buy the movies? Will Netflix and Redbox feel any compulsion to add this type of disc to their rental catalogs? Frankly, I only buy discs for movies that I already know I love or that I need for demo purposes. I would be very reluctant to blindly purchase UHD movies on disc, especially if they carry a premium price tag. It's yet another hurdle that any disc-based UHD format will face.�
In the meantime, I will bid one final adieu to Blockbuster. I suppose, if those 50 non-franchise stores manage to survive, I can always take a road trip to visit one. Perhaps they'll become tourist attractions. The former retail giant will be relegated to the space in my heart occupied by the likes of Bob's Big Boy and Stuckey's. I seldom see one in my travels, but if I know one's close by, I might make a special trip just for nostalgic purposes. Any hey, record stores are making a comeback. Maybe in 20 years, a new breed of hipster will decide that renting and buying movies from an actual store is cool, and we'll see a resurgence. It could happen.�