Are you ever amazed by just how different media consumption has become in the past few decades? Twenty years ago, the idea of internet streaming was an unheard-of concept. But now, streaming services make up the majority of how people access content. When it comes to renting or streaming content, Redbox and Netflix are two of the biggest names.
Netflix is the "original" streaming service. It has a host of competitors, with more streaming services seeming to join the market every year. The way Netflix works is by purchasing streaming licenses for different content. When users subscribe to the platform, all of the licensed content is then available to view.
Redbox functions a little differently. Rather than being a streaming service, Redbox focuses more on media rentals. For a low price, you can purchase a movie to view for a certain period of time. Some movies can be acquired through Redbox locations in-person as DVDs, while others are available on demand through a streaming process.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of these approaches? I've taken a look at how each company works so you can determine which works best.
Overview of Redbox and Netflix
Unique Redbox Features
Unique Netflix Features
Redbox has two main methods through which you can rent content: "at the box" and on-demand. Unlike many other streaming services, they also allow you to purchase movie titles so that you own the rights completely.
"At the box" rental is done in-person. One of the things that helped Redbox outlast Blockbuster is that the company doesn't operate its own in-person stores the same way. Instead, there are Redbox machines that have DVDs available inside. When you make a rental or purchase, the box gives you the movie.
It's a system that works very similarly to a vending machine. Once you're done with the rental, you return it to the same box and drop it off. Each rental is available for a limited amount of time, usually three days. If you drop the movie off later than this, you may incur a late fee.
Redbox machines are often found outside drugstores, pharmacies, grocery stores, department stores, gas stations, and other similar areas. You can peruse the titles on the screen to look for a movie to watch when you see them.
On-demand titles are the same, except you can rent them immediately from the Redbox website. As soon as you've purchased your rental, you can start watching in your browser. Rentals and online purchases are also available to download, which means you can continue watching even when you're offline.
Netflix is best known for its streaming services, but it does still have offers to mail discs to your house to be watched. Rather than renting for a limited amount of time, you'll be sent a certain number of discs depending on the plan. When you're finished, you'll mail them back to be sent more.
This was the way that the company originally functioned before transitioning its business model to be focused more firmly on streaming.
There are different plan structures and pricing for DVD and Blu-Ray rental. Blu-Ray is more expensive.
Each comes with a Standard and Premier plan. With the Standard plan, you get one disc at a time. With Premier, you get two. All of the options include free disc shipping and free returns.
Redbox's rental structure is much cheaper and makes more sense than the Netflix system of shipping discs to your house. In addition, the company allows you to purchase DVDs or digital files of media. This means that you own them permanently and don't have to pay ongoing subscription or rental fees to access them.
Redbox is based more around rentals than streaming services, but it does still have several streaming options available through the website.
The on-demand service allows you to rent or purchase movies and start streaming them immediately. However, with the movie rentals, you only have access to the file for a limited time. There's no monthly subscription to access all available content.
One of the biggest benefits that Redbox offers, though, is the availability of live streaming TV. Multiple channels can be streamed live through the website, and you don't have to pay any subscription fees or enter any credit card information. This is great for people who don't have cable but still want some live TV options.
Some of the channels that you can view through the Redbox website include:
This is just a small sample. There are dozens more.
With these channels, you can stream television shows, movies, documentaries, cartoons, and other media in real time. Content is restricted to whatever's playing at any given moment, like with cable TV. Unlike cable TV, it's free.
Netflix's streaming services are subscription-based. They don't follow a rental structure. When you subscribe to the system, you immediately get access to all of the content available for the length of your subscription. You can watch all of it at any time.
There's a shocking variety of available titles. Netflix itself produces more than 150 original titles in categories including anime, sitcoms, television dramas, cartoons, movies, reality TV, and other genres of entertainment.
In addition, Netflix purchases streaming rights to content made by other companies. There are a ton of television shows available, along with movies and other media. The exact titles available vary. Netflix is often adding new purchased titles, but it also sometimes stops streaming certain media as well.
There's no guarantee that an individual show or movie you want to see will be on Netflix, especially if it's a new arrival. However, you will have access to much more immediate content. And unlike the free Redbox channels, there are no time constraints. You can start, pause, stop, and resume any content whenever you want.
Winner: Redbox for free content | Netflix for quantity
Redbox is the winner for free content. The service has dozens of available channels that you can watch just by accessing your web browser. You don't need to offer payment information or even sign into an account. All you have to do is click on the tab for your preferred channel.
Netflix is the winner for quantity of titles and convenience. When you subscribe, you have instant title access to all streaming content for your entire subscription. And there's full control over how you watch as well.
Pros and Cons of Redbox
Pros and Cons of Netflix
Final Thoughts: Which Is Better?
Both of these services are a great way to access different types of media. The best one to use mainly depends on the experience you want to have.
Redbox is good for those who want to engage in individual rental. If you're planning a weekend movie date or a short movie marathon with friends, this is the service for you. You can rent a movie for a short time for barely more than a dollar, and there are both in-person and online options.
Netflix is best for those who want an ongoing streaming service with a lot of different content. If you find yourself frequently browsing for something new to watch rather than looking for something specific, you'll find a much wider range of options with the service.