Yesterday, it was reported that Verizon was planning a Netflix competitor and in talks with various content producers to provide the streams and downloads. TechCrunch has obtained additional information on this story that makes the concept a bit more realistic and should alleviate some of the concerns noted by critics and consumers yesterday.
Our source says that Verizon is in fact planning a major partnership with RedBox, whose fast-growing business of $1 (now $1.20) DVD-rental kiosks has made it a major player in the content distribution game. They aim to debut a TV and movie streaming and download service this coming May.
The service is called Project Zoetrope internally, and will be a subscription, streaming, and downloading service for TV and movies that will be available on a broad variety of platforms: they plan support for iOS, Android, Google TV, Xbox, Roku and other streaming boxes, and browsers. Set-top boxes, by which they mean more traditional digital cable boxes, are not supported; this is an internet service, not a broadcast service.
It will stream in SD or HD to all of these devices, and local storage of video will be enabled for mobile devices and tablets. It is still in talks with content providers and will be following their lead on blackouts and release timing; this won't be a quick-release channel for new movies or live TV, for instance.
Launch is planned for May 28th, with a beta starting in late April. Pricing is expected to be monthly and credit-based, e.g. $5.95 per month for 6 credits, which could be used to rent X movies or Y shows. There will be several tiers and some will include physical disc rentals, and of course there will be ways to purchase more shows if necessary.
For those who were skeptical of yesterday's rumors, this should come as some kind of reassurance. Verizon has little to no branding in the on-demand movies and TV world, while RedBox is immediately recognizable and synonymous with simplicity and value. Redbox, however, has little in the way of TV shows, so Verizon is probably doing much of the heavy lifting on that side, and of course on the delivery infrastructure front.