BigBox DVD kiosks take on Redbox with cheap, per-hour movie rentals:
Are the $1-a-night DVD rental prices at Redbox kiosks too rich for your blood? Well, a new player in the DVD rental kiosk craze is upping the ante by offering DVD and Blu-ray rentals for just pennies an hour, although only a few of the per-hour kiosks are up and running.
Video Business reports that fouryeah, just four, for now anywayBigBox movie rental kiosks are humming away in Wisconsin and Minneapolis.
From what I can tell on the BigBox Web site, the BigBox DVD kiosks work more or less the same way as Redbox kiosks do; you swipe your credit card, dial up the DVD or Blu-ray you want to rent, and then return it to the machine when you're done.
Rather than charging you per night, though, BigBox does it by the hour: New DVD releases (such as "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," "Julie & Julia," and "Public Enemies") will cost you 6 cents an hour, while older, catalog titles cost 4 cents an hour. Blu-rays are also available, but they rent for a premium of 9 cents/hour. If you end up keeping a movie, BigBox will charge your credit card $35 for a DVD or $45 for a Blu-ray.
Of course, while 6 cents an hour for a new-release DVD is pretty cheap, it adds up on a per-day basisto the tune of $1.44 over 24 hours, which makes BigBox ultimately pricier than Redbox if you keep a movie for a full day. Then again, if you snap up a BixBox DVD at, say, 9 p.m. and return it bright and early at 9 a.m., you're talking just 72 cents, with catalog DVDs only 48 cents or 12 hours.
Unfortunately, you can't just walk up to a BigBox and plug a few quarters into a coin slot. The first time you use one of the kiosks, the machine charges you a buck to verify your credit card; after that, you buy "buckets" of BigBox credit in denominations of $5, $10, $15, or $20. You must have some BigBox credit on your account to rent a movie, and if you don't have enough when you return a disc to a BigBox kiosk, the machine will spit it out until you buy more credit.
There's also the slight issue of BigBox's kiosk locations, which are very few and far between. Three are located at University of Wisconsin campuses, with a new kiosk at BigBox parent company Mosquito Productions HQ in Blaine, Minneapolis. That said, BigBox crows that its kiosks hold "15 times" as many movies as "some of our competitors," although not being in either Wisconsin or Minneapolis, I'm unable to go out and personally verity the claim.
This just seems odd. I guess it works though for a college campus. It's interesting to me that while retail chains are closing all over the country these rental kiosks are popping up everywhere. With download and direct mail becoming the preferred method it seems odd that companies are investing in this as it seems to have a limited scope and possibly limited future.