Redbox has always been aggressive about pricing. Taking home a DVD or Blu-ray from one of the company's rental kiosks is cheaper than paying to watch the same movie via iTunes or Amazon. That's not changing just yet, but the cost of Redbox's 24-hour rentals is going up by at least 25 percent starting December 2nd. Currently priced at $1.20, DVD rentals will increase to $1.50. And Blu-rays, now $1.50, will go up to $2.00 — a 33 percent hike. But even with the higher prices, renting a film from Redbox is still cheaper than going the digital route, where new releases typically cost around $4.99 to download or stream in high definition.
The Wall Street Journal notes that Redbox is trying to buck stagnant financial performance it's seen in recent months, and more expensive rentals are just one part of the company's revised approach. Other upcoming changes include a Netflix-like recommendation system and "more efficient" stocking of kiosks, so expect Redbox's selection of older films to become more limited. Redbox recently renewed its distribution deals with Lionsgate and other content providers, and those multi-year agreements likely played into these new rates.
Redbox is essentially finished with its US expansion; there are only so many grocery stores and shopping centers where the company can place its kiosks. And as the Journal notes, it's having trouble keeping existing units in place. Redbox will close 2014 with 100 to 400 fewer kiosks in operation than it had last year. Even so, it's not like there's much in the way of competition. There aren't many other places to rent DVDs these days, and for better or worse, physical media remains Redbox's lone specialty. Redbox Instant, the company's attempt at a proper Netflix competitor, completely flopped with consumers and has already been shut down.