Redbox, the service that launched thousands of cherry red sentinels standing guard outside convenience stores across America loaded with cheap movie rentals, is moving into the live TV game with Redbox Free Live TV, as reported by Variety. The service, which began rolling out in select markets earlier this month but is available nationwide as of today, offers ad-supported blocks of shows and movies. You know, like TV used to. (And I guess still does? Do people still watch live TV?)
Although it’s technically a streaming app, the Redbox service shows scheduled programming rather than allowing users to select titles themselves. It’s an interesting gambit in a landscape dominated by on-demand streaming services, but Redbox is hoping the free app will appeal to its existing customer base of over 45 million people who enjoy using their low-cost kiosks and VOD service.
As of right now, Redbox doesn’t have any exclusive titles, but has partnered with a handful of studios, most notably Lionsgate. The service’s programming is spread across dozens of channels covering everything from movies to news to web series and children’s entertainment. There are also three Redbox-branded channels: Redbox Rush, Redbox Comedy, and Redbox Spotlight. While Comedy is self-explanatory, the less-obvious titles Rush and Spotlight contain action/adventure titles and featured titles, respectively. According to Redbox CEO Galen Smith, new channels will be added monthly as the library of content expands.
Unsurprisingly, Redbox is also getting into original content, having launched Redbox Entertainment last year. They were behind the much-maligned thriller The Fanatic starring John Travolta, as well as the Nicolas Cage film Running With the Devil, co-starring Laurence Fishburne. It seems likely that they will start producing shows and features specifically for Redbox Free Live TV sometime in the future, considering the path taken by virtually every other streaming service. The app is currently available on Roku, Android, Apple TV and iPhone, as well as Vizio and LG smart TVs. You can also access the service directly from Redbox’s website.