ANN reports that Media Blasters is starting a Redbox-ish service for anime. The boxes will be branded with the company’s Rareflix logo, and will rent anime DVDs. This sounds like a pretty awesome idea, really. It’ll ensure hundreds of new sales for the industry, since the machines need to be stocked. In addition, the option for renters to purchase the DVDs (with their original packaging) may create an incentive to further help sales along. and it will create a persistent revenue stream for Media Blasters. In addition, the company’s clearly targeting every breed of fan, as they’re stocking titles from all companies and all genres. Over 100 of the kiosks are slated to roll out in the next year and a half.
The astute observer may notice that a number of harder-to-find titles are being offered in these machines. Elf Princess Raine, Geobreeders, and Patlabor – all quality, yet sadly out of print titles – will be offered for sale and rent in the kiosks.
Really, if FUNimation and Section23 weren’t on board with this, the service would shrivel and die quickly. Because really, as much as I love Ramen Fighter Miki and Tweeny Witches, they’re not the type of show that would set people’s minds and wallets aflame.
My only real concern is that general fan interest may not allow these to have a huge amount of longevity. Placement, pricing of purchases, and the all-important fan wilingness are all potential sticking points for the service. The rental pricing is fair, with the normal Redbox fees of $1 per DVD, $2 per Blu-Ray, so that end of the price spectrum is a non-issue.
However,, given how fussy anime fans are, it’s tough to really say how the market will latch onto this idea. I’d love to be proven wrong, since it’s an excellent idea that could help all players in this market win.