I've wondered whether the demographics of those who use Netflix differ from those who use Redbox.
Both address the following problem: how do I get a DVD conveniently? Stores like Blockbuster are often not that convenient. Once upon a time, you had to go to the store and rent the video for 2-3 days, and if you didn't get it back in that time, you were fined some amount for each day you had it out.
This lead to users having to make a trip to the video store late, and often making themselves watch a movie they might have ordinarily said no to if they hadn't already plunked down the money.
Netflix came up with a pretty good idea. They figured people don't want to pay late fees. They don't want to have to go to the video store to pick up videos. Since DVDs are pretty small these days and fit in typical mailboxes, why not mail it to them? You pay a monthly fee that gives you 1, 2, or 3 videos a month. When you return it, you get another one.
There is a drawback. You can only get videos as fast as you can return it and have a new one sent to you. Netflix has centers at many different locations so returning it can be speedy. Even so, you expect perhaps 1-2 days minimum turn-around.
Netflix tries to mitigate the delay by letting you create a queue. That way, you can plan ahead, sort the list of DVDs you want. This requires a browser. And, while you're at it, you can rate films so other folks can see what you like. It's a social networking experience.
Redbox, on the other hand, solves the problem differently. They try to be everywhere, in particular, grocery stores. You have to shop for food, right? So head to a grocery store, and rent a DVD for $1 a day. You can keep it as long as you want, but you continually get charged. There's still some incentive to get it back, but the idea is the location is closer to you.
Unlike Netflix, there is (I assume) no online identity. You do not plan ahead. You go, look at the selection, and rent. This is geared to the masses that may not particularly care for an online experience that requires a long-term commitment and planning.
Thus, I can see Redbox being more popular than Netflix even though Netflix appears to have been around a lot longer.
These crowds need not be exclusive, of course. You may decide that, at some period in your life, you have time to watch movies, and then you maintain a Netflix account, but at other times you don't, so you use Redbox and pick up a DVD whenever.
Clearly, the long-term solution is download on demand, although Redbox would still continue to be a viable option for those who only want to pay for what they rent, rather than pay for the privilege of downloading.
So are the kinds of people different? Are Netflix folks typically more well-educated, Internet savvy folks? Or not?
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