Verizon And Redbox Taking On Netflix With New Joint Venture

Ladies and gentlemen, it looks like the mysterious Project Zoetrope will soon be seeing the light of day. Verizon and Redbox owner Coinstar have just taken to the wires today to announce their new joint venture in video entertainment, with their subscription services poised to launch in the second half of this year.

Details are still light at the moment (though a 9:30 AM conference call should shed some light on things) but the new service certainly has Netflix in its sights.

What we do know so far is that Verizon looks to combine a “video on demand streaming and download service” with Redbox’s physical media rentals from their 35,000+ kiosks nationwide. If the information given to us from an inside source holds true though, expect to see the yet-unnamed video service hit a host of platforms — think iOS, Android, Xbox, and the like.

I probably don’t need to remind you that Verizon is a major player in both the home entertainment and mobile space, and it’s exactly that breadth that they and Redbox want to built off of for their new service. The two companies are apparently in pursuit of what they call the “borderless lifestyle,” where the entertainment content consumers want will be available on the device (or media format) of their choosing.

It has the potential to be a far more attractive option than Netflix for some customers, if only because using Netflix’s mail order service requires a little bit of forethought. Spur-of-the-moment types will likely appreciate the ability to swing by the local drugstore and pick up a few DVDs for the night when their new movie of choice hasn’t yet appeared in their Verizon/Redbox streaming account yet. That question of content is what will ultimately make or break this new service, and hopefully they have some aces up their collective sleeves, as the new joint venture and Netflix will likely compete head-to-head on new DVD and Blu-ray releases.

In all likelihood, Netflix will have Verizon/Redbox beat when it comes to the size of their physical media catalog, so Verizon/Redbox may look to play up their “borderless” streaming side of things. Even that could be a risky move, as Netflix’s anemic margins on streaming video content show that it’s a tough model to run with.

Update: Well shucks, the conference call lasted all of four minutes and didn’t shed any new light on the situation.