updated 11:05 pm EST, Tue January 31, 2012
Redbox must buy discs but gets them faster
Disagreements between Redbox and Warner Bros. may have inadvertently benefited viewers after a deal between the two expired Tuesday. Redbox will now have to buy Blu-ray and DVD discs from retail to stock its catalog rather than at a lower price from Warner, but it will no longer face the 28-day delay instituted by Warner to try and shelter traditional rentals and sales. Warner earlier in the month had started insisting on an even longer 56-day delay that likely pushed Redbox into the more expensive but much faster arrangement.
The movie studio has tried to spin its point of view, claiming that viewers are "best served" by an artificial window that makes them buy or rent at higher prices. This was necessary to keep making "quality movies," it claimed, adding that it still wanted to negotiate with Redbox but providing no signs of a balance.
Other studios already have deals with built-in, shorter delays, although a test is coming in April when Universal's deal expires.
Redbox has thrived and, along with the mostly digital Netflix and iTunes, is partly responsible for the erosion of the conventional disc-based movie business. Its $1.20 daily rental price has been docked by studios as being too low, although it's not clear if there's been a true comparison of the revenue Redbox makes for studios with each movie versus the traditional method. [via LA Times]