Redbox testing higher-priced DVD rentals


Dollar-rental king Redbox is testing DVD rentals at higher price points at its kiosk locations in five markets.

There's no guarantee the tests will lead to permanent price boosts nor an indication of how long the tests might last.

Launched in November in Albuquerque, N.M., and expanded in recent weeks, the DVD price tests complement other marketing testing by the Coinstar-owned kiosk chain, including renewed testing of video game rentals. On Wednesday, Merriman Curhan Ford analyst Eric Wold said trial tests of games at 150 kiosks in Austin could bear fruit despite modest title offerings at present.

"Given that management chose to launch another game test almost a year after doing so in two other cities demonstrates to us they saw something positive in the initial tests," Wold wrote in a research note.

"We plan to continue the test until we can understand the implications," a Coinstar spokesman said. "There is no definitive end date."

Along with the $1.50 test in Albuquerque, price-point tests began in May in Modesto, Calif. ($1.25), San Diego ($1.25), Spokane, Wash. ($1.15) and Miami/West Palm Beach ($1.15).

Redbox also is testing Blu-ray rentals in select markets.

The company's biggest competitor in the DVD-kiosks niche is NCR-operated Blockbuster Express. On Tuesday, Blockbuster Express announced the rollout of an additional 500 sites operated by two convenience-store chains in the South, bringing its number of nationwide dollar-rental locations to about 7,000.

Redbox operates kiosks in more than 22,000 retail locations nationwide.