About a month ago I noticed a DVD rental kiosk at Kroger promising $1 per day rentals. I kept meaning to look at it more closely, but someone was either already at it, it was offline, or I was in a hurry to get out of the store. Yesterday I finally stopped by and rented a movie that I had kind of wanted to see but knew Susan would never want to watch (Talladega Nights: The Story of Ricky Bobby, C+, probably worth a dollar).
I guess the machine (about the size of a large coke machine) is filled with disks. They seem to have almost all of the releases from the last year, probably over a hundred movies, and with multiple copies there are probably 500 disks inside. There is a computer on the front with a touchscreen that lets you browse movies by genre and they seem fairly current with new releases. They take only credit cards and give you until midnight the next day before you are charged another dollar. After 14 days they charge you $35 plus tax to keep the movie.
Once you’ve selected a movie and swiped your credit card, the DVD is put in a reusable black case (no moving parts) with a bar code and comes out of a slot in the bottom. You can rent up to three movies at a time, but since it is a daily rental, I don’t know why you would do that. When you return the movie you put it back in the case and put it in the slot. Then it charges your credit card $1 plus tax for each day. I don’t see any reason the disk wouldn’t be available again immediately. I wonder if they read the disk to scan for damage and that you put the correct movie back in the sleeve? They must.
I think it’s great to be able to pay less to rent a movie for only one day. Blockbuster upsized everyone by making you rent a movie for 3 days or more and charging you more. It’s also convenient having movies available in a grocery store, but since I usually shop too late to watch a movie at home that night, I would have to rent it for the next day or on weekends. One of the few disadvantages is that, like any self-service thing (ATM’s, self-checkout, etc.), if you get behind someone it can take them a while to browse and make their transaction. Also it only takes credit cards, even though hopefully you are only spending a dollar. And you can’t just drop it off as easily as you can at Blockbuster: you have to park, go in the store, hopefully not wait in line, and return the movie.
I don’t see how they can make money on it (they will probably raise prices once people start using it a lot), but part of the economy was installing it in a number of stores at once. One person could probably service 20 of these things instead of 10 people working at one Blockbuster. I found the following press release describing the release of the kiosks, run by a company called The New Release. I figure the machines must cost about $20,000 each and if they contain 500 $10 disks, that’s another $5,000. So $25,000 times 170 units is $4.25 million just for starters.
HOUSTON — TNR Entertainment Corp., owner and operator of DVD rental kiosks in supermarkets and grocery stores under the brand “The New Release,” has just completed the installation of 170 new kiosks in Kroger stores throughout Greater Atlanta.
“The growth and vitality of Atlanta and surrounding areas make it an ideal choice for one of our largest geographic market installations,” said Jeff Karbowiak, chief operating officer of TNR Entertainment. “This major new market for TNR is not only a significant extension of our strong relationship with Kroger, but it also allows us to introduce The New Release’s unmatched convenience and value.”
The new kiosks are located throughout Atlanta, Canton, Decatur, Douglasville, Dunwoody, Fayetteville, Gainesville, Jonesboro, Lawrenceville, Marietta, Newnan, Roswell, Smyrna, and Tucker, among other sites.