With so many movies to rent movies, it’s hard to figure out which one is best for your you. Netflix is still the leader of the pack, but it now has some fierce competition with the likes of Blockbuster and Redbox. So how does Redbox and Blockbuster’s movie rental program(s) compare…read on and decide for yourself!

Background

Blockbuster has been in the business of movie rentals longer, but Redbox kiosks are popping up at an exponential rate! It seems they’re at every grocery store, 7/11 and liquor store in the nation! Redbox allows users to easily rent as many movies (CD and Blu-ray discs) and even video games for one low price, provided they return it in a few days or else getting charged for every day it’s late (the same price as the rental fee). At the end of June 2011, Redbox reported more than 33,000 kiosks in more than 27,8000 locations. They’re bright red (hence the name) and usually have a line of people waiting to rent (if you go during peak hours like during the weekend). Blockbuster, on the other hand, is an actual store where you rent movies and games, but has now jumped on the mail-in disc bandwagon a la Netflix and even offers a Video on Demand service online.

User Friendly

With Redbox, you simply find a kiosk near your home or office using their website, and select from a variety of movies/games that are currently stored in the kiosk. You can choose as many rentals as you want (up to five for repeat customers and up to three on your first visit) and simply pay on a per-rental basis. Entering your email allows for a receipt in your inbox. If you keep your rentals for more than a day, your card will automatically get charged since the kiosk already has your method of payment. To return, you can go to any Redbox Kiosk in the U.S. since each disc has an electronic bar code and security tag that tracks when it’s rented or returned. Pretty simple, right?

Blockbuster is a bit different. There’s the in-store experience where you walk in, rent a movie and return it later, but there’s also Blockbuster Total Access where you rent one DVD, Blu-ray or video game at a time and have it mailed to you or Blockbuster On Demand where you rent on a per-title basis via the Internet with VOD purchase options (which has an extra fee, of course). Blockbuster also allows users on the Total Access plan to exchange discs in actual stores if they don’t want to mail them back and then rent another title. Blockbuster’s rental program also applies to video games, too!

Winner

Blockbuster has more renting options than Redbox, despite how many kiosks or how easy it is to rent. The fact that you can be a lazy bum and rent movies online to get them via mail or streaming is priceless.

Compatible Devices

Redbox carries DVD, Blu-ray and video games for Xbox 360, Wii and PlayStation 3, so you have a pretty device selection to choose from. Since it’s only a rental program for now, compatible devices for Redbox’s rentals include DVD players, computers, Blu-ray players and the aforementioned gaming consoles.

Given Blockbuster’s diverse renting programs, it has a longer list of compatible devices. Blockbuster’s online offerings are available on many TiVo DVRs and some Blu-ray players, some connected TVs and HDTV set-top boxes, in conjunction with the traditional computer (or DVD players if renting from the Total Access plan). It also streams on some Android mobile phones and tablets, but for some odd reason isn’t available on any Apple devices (which eliminates the iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch).

Winner

Blockbuster because it’s services simply cover more devices.

Titles

Since it’s still a free-standing kiosk, Redbox’s selection isn’t going to be as great as Blockbuster. It will, however, most likely carry all the newest releases and some older ones depending on the kiosk since each one has different inventory, which is based on rental habits of customers at each location. And since discs can be returned to any Redbox location, inventory shifts from place to place. BUT, you can look up what’s in a kioask near you by searching online, which is a helpful tool to know which kiosk you’ll need to go to for that coveted rental title. And to make sure it stays at that kiosk while you’re on your way over, you can reserve it online.

Blockbuster boasts more than 100,000 movies and TV shows on DVD and Blu-ray, including unrated movies plus 3,000 video games. But some exclusive titles are actually available 28 days before Redbox.

Winner

Blockbuster has WAY more titles available than Redbox (both new and old) so they’ll most likely have that crazy movie from your childhood days you’ve been itching to see in stock!

Membership Perks

Redbox allows you to sign in on the site and check out what kiosks have your favorite movies, which you can then reserve so that nobody snatches it up while you trek on down. You’ll also receive some promo codes from time to time in your inbox, but that’s about it since it’s not really a “membership” program. However, you will be able to rent a title for only $1 (vs $1.20) if you reserve online (for the first time, only). Blockbuster allows for in-store disc exchange for members of its Total Access program, so you don’t have to mail them in if you want anther title faster (be aware that this doesn’t include ALL stores).

Winner

Redbox. This is a tough one, but since Redbox doesn’t require a membership, monthly billing and a cheap pay for play scenario, we’re giving this one to them.

Content

Redbox only has movies and no TV shows, while Blockbuster has almost everything (games, shows, movies, documentaries, etc.).

Winner

Blockbuster provides more content than Redbox since it offers shows.

Speed of Service

Instantly get your disc at a Redbox kiosk. Blockbuster’s streaming movies will start within seconds, but it really comes down to your Internet speed and connection.  Conversely, Redbox’s kiosks are open 24/7/365 allowing you to rent a movie when you want without having to worry about store hours or shipping times – instant gratification.

Winner

It’s a tie.  Blockbuster’s offers a variety of ways to get your media and Redbox is open 24/7.

Quality

Redbox rentals are, for the most part, good to go out of the little plastic protection box they come in. However, if one is scratched, broken or won’t play, simply go online and let customer service know via the “Ask a Question” form or by calling the customer car number on the site. Most likely you’ll be reimbursed or given credit. Redbox also provides Blue-ray videos, as does Blockbuster. But for Blockbuster’s streaming videos expect specs of 1080p and HD options.

Winner

Tie Again!

Limitations

Redbox is only a disc rental service (for now), but there are rumors out there that it might be entering the streaming content market as Blockbuster did when Netflix was top dog. Redbox also requires you to return rentals to a kiosk by 9 p.m. the day after you rent it or you will be charged for an extra day. You can go online for certain perks (see membership perks), but really, you still have to drive to the kiosk to get your movie. Blockbuster’s limitations include not having every store in its company participating in the online disc to in-store exchange and how its streaming content is totally separated from their On Demand program. You have to pay $2.99-$3.99 per-title, with $10.99 and up on VOD purchases (but you can rent or buy, with rentals having a 24-hour viewing period).

Winner

Blockbuster wins this bout since you can get more media from more sources, where as Redbox is limited to kiosks only.

Price

Blockbuster charges $2.99-$3.99 per rentals, $9.99 for their disc rental (one at a time, $14.99 for two discs) and $10.99 and up for VOD purchases. Redbox rentals used to be $0.99, but they’ve recently hiked the price (Blu-ray and games stay at $1.50 and $2, respectively). Now the price is $1.20 to rent a movie, but if you reserve a title online, you’ll get it for $1 (only the first time, though).

Winner

You can’t go wrong with $1.20 for movie rentals, honestly (that is if you like the newest releases), so Redbox takes it here for being so cheap!

Overall Winner

For those that want a membership to a rental service, Blockbuster takes the big “W” against Redbox since it offers a low monthly fee for a movies, TV shows or games, while Redbox only has disc rentals from kiosks all across the country. If you’re a big-tim movie fanatic, then a membership will obviously be cheaper than one-time fees, plus it provides a bigger selection of titles, new and old.  But don’t get us wrong, Redbox serves a purpose for those that don’t want a monthly membership fee, and for those that’s all that matters most.



Kristie Bertucci

 
Kristie Bertucci is an L.A.-based writer, who can't live without her MacBook Pro. When she's not writing, she's either reading or shopping (online, of course) and loves lazy days so she can catch up on her DVR-recorded shows and movies. She's definitely a Mac girl, she loves music and is currently on a mission to to have an insane and enviable iTunes library.