Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Redbox accepts delayed access to Warner DVDs

As I wrote in an earlier post, the movie studios have been battling Redbox and its $1 DVD rental machines. Lawsuits ensued.

Warner and Redbox have just announced the settlement of their legal battle. The agreement delays Redbox's access to Warner DVDs until 28 days after initial release, creating a "window" for higher-priced consumer DVD rentals. In exchange, Warner reduces the price Redbox pays for DVDs, and also guarantees the larger quantity of discs Redbox sought.

Thus, just as consumers can buy a hardcover book early or wait for a cheaper paperback, consumers now have the choice of renting from higher-priced outlets like Blockbuster on the day of release or waiting 28 days for a cheap rental. Of course, Warner hopes that some consumers will choose to purchase the DVD instead, which would give Warner a greater profit.

That 28-day window also gives Warner an opportunity to try to build up the market for video-on-demand, online streaming, and digital downloads -- all of which have the potential to provide larger profit margins than DVD rentals.

Although not mentioned in the press release, PaidContent and the New York Times (via AP) are reporting that Redbox has also agreed to destroy all Warner DVDs when demand drops for rentals from their kiosks. Until now, Redbox had been selling off used inventory at low prices, further diminishing demand for new DVDs.