As many of you know, an American company recently announced they would be retreating from Canada due to a failed expansion into this country. Of course, that company would be Target, whose demise in Canada has been well-documented.
Unfortunately, another American company has decided to call it quits in Canada as well. Just like Target, Redbox is leaving after a period of less than three years. Redbox operates thousands of automated kiosks that rents movies to the public. Achieving success in the US, the company decided to expand into Canada in early 2012. They intended to tap into a consumer market that no longer had any video stores to go to. You can read their announcement here but the gist of it is, there wasn’t enough demand for them to continue.
I was and continue to be a huge fan of Redbox. They chose to put a kiosk downstairs in the Safeway. I could go online and check the inventory of that kiosk without leaving my home. It was so convenient. Sometimes I’d rent from a Redbox somewhere else but I could return to any other Redbox. It was also cheap too. I always rented Blu-rays and they were just over $2 a rental after tax. Over the course of two years, I’d say I rented from my local Redbox about two or three times a month on average.
A lot of people question why someone would use Redbox when streaming services like Netflix exist. Let’s address Netflix first. Netflix doesn’t offer movies as recent as the ones you’d find in a Redbox. Sometimes you’ll have to wait a year or even longer for a movie to appear on there. In many cases, some movies will never arrive on Netflix. Because I live in Canada, the selection on Netflix sucks compared to other countries. In the last year, I don’t think any of my Redbox rentals have shown up on Netflix.
As for other streaming services, they are much more current than Netflix. Unfortunately, they’re more than double the price for a movie rental in standard definition. Yes, that’s right. Why would I rent something at twice the price with inferior image quality? High definition streaming rentals do exist but they’re $6, triple what a Redbox rental costs. Also keep in mind that if you go with a streaming rental, you also incur the cost of eating up any bandwidth caps you might have.
Lastly, there’s also the murky option of downloading movies using torrents. As someone who derives their living from making consumable digital entertainment, I just can’t justify getting a movie for free and then complaining that people are pirating the games I make. If I want to keep myself positioned on the moral high ground here, I can’t go the torrent route.
So, where does this leave me? No other kiosk rental services exist in Canada. Best Buy used to have a competing service but they wrapped that up nearly a year and a half ago. Some companies still operate the movie rentals by mail business. The problem is these services force you to pay a set fee every month, even if you decide not to get any movies for that month. With Redbox, I only paid whenever I rented.
I had no feelings either way when I read that Target was leaving Canada. With Redbox though, I’m genuinely sad. I was looking forward to seeing Interstellar on Blu-ray and getting it from my local Redbox at the end of March. That won’t happen now.