Redbox marks 1 billionth DVD rental

Chain's revenue rose 44%, to $271.9 mil, in recent quarter

Redbox this weekend achieved a milestone: The kiosk chain rented its 1 billionth DVD.

"We have grown as fast as, or faster than, Netflix," Redbox president Mitch Lowe said in an interview with Home Media Magazine.

Indeed, the first Redbox-branded DVD rental vending machines were rolled out in 2005, a year after the company launched at 140 McDonald's fast-food restaurants with rebranded DVDPlay kiosks.

Netflix rented its 1 billionth DVD in February 2007, 10 years after the company was established and eight years after it launched its pioneer DVD subscription rental business model. Lowe had helped found Netflix and served as VP of business development for the Los Gatos, Calif.-based company.

The Redbox milestone comes just the company is beginning to add second vending machine units at existing kiosk locations.

Redbox currently has 24,000 rental kiosks throughout the United States, with plans to add another 2,000 by the end of this year, Lowe said. Revenue in the most recent quarter rose 44% to $271.9 million.

The top five retail outlets where Redbox has kiosks, Lowe said, are grocers Kroger and Super Valu, Wal-Mart and 7-Eleven. The company also has placed kiosks on military bases, including Pearl Harbor, and has just inked a deal with the CVS drugstore chain.

"We're also opening in public libraries," Lowe said. "They're telling us now they can dedicate monies they were spending on movies toward buying books again."

Lowe said the recent decision to add Blu-ray Discs to the Redbox mix is already paying off.

"It's going really good," he said. "It's something our customers have been asking for, for a long, long time. We now have Blu-ray Discs in every kiosk, and we are slowly but surely building up our selection.

"Many customers who haven't yet made the plunge [into Blu-ray] are teeling us this is making them more inclined to buy a Blu-ray player."

To celebrate its 1 billionth rental, Redbox today is unveiling on its website a "Thanks a billion" promotion. Anyone who rents a movie from Redbox this month can get a coupon good for a free movie rental simply by going to the Redbox website and entering the barcode from the DVD.
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