One of Netflix's rivals is trying to buy the streaming giant's soon-to-close DVD rental division.
Per The Hollywood Reporter (THR), Redbox – a video on demand (VoD) and DVD rental company – has expressed interest in purchasing the DVD-centric portion of Netflix. The revelation comes less than 48 hours after Netflix confirmed it was shutting down its DVD rental division in September 2023 after 25 years of service. It was Netflix's DVD rental service that put it on the map and eventually paved the way for Netflix to reinvent how we view content at home by ushering in the streaming era.
So, if the world's best streaming service is doing away with its DVD leasing platform, and Redbox wants to buy it, what's the problem? In short: it doesn't sound like Netflix is interested in selling this portion of the company to a rival.
Speaking to THR, Bill Rouhana – CEO of Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, which owns RedBox – said: "I’d like to buy it. I wish Netflix would sell me that business instead of shutting it down. I have tried three or four times to reach out to the corporate development people about it but just got rebuffed each time. So when I saw it being closed, I thought, 'Well, maybe they’ll do it now.'"
Netflix hasn't confirmed or denied whether it would finally be open to selling its DVD leasing service to Redbox. Based on Rouhana's response to THR's question, though, it doesn't sound like he's confident that an agreement could be reached this time around. We've reached out to Netflix for comment and we'll report back if we receive a response.
Formed by former McDonald's executive Gregg Kaplan in 2022, Redbox has gone on to become one of the world's leading DVD rental companies. Currently, the VoD/DVD-centric organization owns 32,000 red DVD kiosks across the US and, despite its parent company posting a $56.3 million loss in Q4 2022 (per nexttv.com), 1500 more kiosks are set to open in Dollar General stores this year.
An unnecessary acquisition or a (potentially) winning strategy?
It seems bizarre that Redbox would want to buy Netflix's DVD rental business. With the latter set to call time on this division in late 2023, Redbox's main competitor in the DVD rental space will be gone. Kaput. Finito. Subsequently, it'll have free reign over the DVD rental market.
And Rouhana already knows this, telling THR: "This could be a great boon to us because now there are a whole bunch of people who are going to look for a new place to get their DVDs, and we’re close to 90 percent of them based on where our kiosks are located."
If that's going to be the case, why bother spending a fortune on adding Netflix's DVD rental division to Redbox? If Redbox's reach is as wide-reaching and successful as Rouhana suggests, it already possesses a sizable library of content to provide to its nationwide userbase.
Well, maybe Redbox has plans on bringing its service to a global audience. For instance, Netflix's DVD rental platform has never been available in the UK. If Redbox acquired Netflix's DVD leasing service, it would have a far bigger stack of physical media to distribute to more people. If Rouhana's ambitions extend outside of North America, it could start offering its Redbox service overseas – as long as it didn't prove too costly to do so, of course.
Regardless, neither Redbox or Netflix will suffer financially if the latter refuses to sell its DVD rental sector to the former. Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment's revenue streams tripled to $113.6 million in 2022, largely thanks to its acquisition of Redbox that same year. Meanwhile, Netflix brought in a staggering $8.16 billion in Q1 2023, despite the threat of people cancelling their subscriptions as the Netflix password sharing rolls out globally in the coming months.
Clearly, the addition of massive hits, such as The Night Agent and Wednesday, to its back catalog helped it recover after a turbulent 2022. You can see what other brilliant TV series and films are available on the streamer by reading our best Netflix shows and best Netflix movies guide.
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