Redbox is more than just a DVD rental kiosk outside your local drugstore.
After years of building a brand on making movie rentals convenient, Redbox is leveraging its brand recognition to try to gain market share in the next movie-watching frontier: streaming television.
Redbox Live TV is a free streaming service that offers both live and on-demand content via Redbox’s website and apps. And it’s incredibly easy to access.
I downloaded the app to a couple of devices to take the service for a test drive. This review will include my experiences from the trial.
Note: Redbox also has an on-demand movies option on the app that will let you rent and stream new releases. This review is not about that function of the app and website. Instead, I’m focusing on how you can access free content.
Table of Contents
- What Is Redbox Streaming?
- How To Watch
- Content Available on Redbox Streaming
- User Experience
- Final Thoughts
This review is one of many Team Clark has conducted as a part of our free streaming TV series. You can learn more about our strategies for getting free streaming TV here:
What Is Redbox Streaming?
Redbox Live TV is a free streaming service that provides live streaming and on-demand content you can access on your phone, tablet, computer or television. The live offerings come in the form of genre-specific channels that run around the clock.
Since there is no charge for the service, you will be subject to advertisements before and during your viewing.
In addition to the live streaming channels, Redbox also has a catalog of free on-demand movies. This selection is somewhat limited, though Redbox does offer a much larger catalog of movies that are available for rent on the same app.
How To Watch
Good news! You’re not going to need a credit card to check out the Redbox streaming offerings, and you’re probably going to own at least one device that has access to the service.
There Is No Sign-Up Process
In a digital world where it seems everyone wants you to create a user name and password, Redbox does not require either in order to watch its free content. How nice is that?
When I downloaded the app on my Android device, all I had to do was click on the “Watch Free” tab in the bottom right corner of the screen (pictured below) to land on a live television guide.
While the app did prompt me to allow access to my phone’s location to customize the experience, I just declined that. And, again, I didn’t have to fill in my email address or credit card number.
From download to launch, you can literally be watching content in a matter of seconds. That’s probably worth noting if you’re on the fence about anything I tell you in this review: You’re just a few seconds from downloading Redbox or going to the website to try it out for yourself without risk.
Devices and Apps
If you’re looking to watch the platform on traditional television, you likely will need to access it via an external streaming device. Redbox Live TV is available on the following streaming and casting devices:
- Google Chromecast
If you’re trying to watch Redbox Free TV from a smart TV, there’s a chance you won’t need a special device. The following manufacturers already include Redbox as part of their smart TV offerings:
- Android TV
You also can watch by simply pulling up Redbox.com on an internet browser and clicking on the “Live TV” tab on the website.
Content Available To Stream on Redbox
Redbox Live TV has dozens of channels that are free to watch 24 hours per day. It also has on-demand movies and television shows. Redbox says the on-demand titles are available only for a limited time due to agreements with programming providers.
Here’s a look at some of the content you can expect to see on the app.
- USA Today
- CBC News
- Now This News
I feel like these news offerings fall a little short when compared to some of the other free streaming services out there. Others offer feeds from national syndicates including CBS News, NBC News and ABC News that are actually live feeds of broadcasts, bringing you the news as it happens.
Instead, the majority of these channels give you short, pre-recorded blocks of news, so the information may be incomplete or out of date.
- Pac-12 Insider
- beIN Sports Extra
- Glory Kickboxing
- World Poker Tour
- Outdoor America
- Nitro Circus
- Hard Knocks
If you’re looking for access to professional or college sports as they happen, you’re most likely going to have to pay for a subscription service. The sports content you’ll find here is highlights and commentary on old games as well as poker tournaments, boxing, kickboxing and some outdoor events. None of it is in real time.
- Family Feud TV
- America’s Test Kitchen
- Johnny Carson TV
- Unsolved Mysteries
- Vogue TV
While I lumped these together as “entertainment,” on the app they’re actually sampling from channels programmed by genre, such as food, crime or comedy. I found these channels to be the most interesting in the live streaming format. But don’t expect entire episodes. Instead, you’ll get one round of Family Feud or a compilation of funny Feud clips. Or you’ll get a cooking segment on preparing an individual dish before the channel moves to something else completely.
As you’d expect for a company trying to get people to pay to rent movies on the same app, the selection of free movies is pretty thin. Still, you’ll find some recognizable names. While not their top box office hits, I found films that starred Robin Williams, Nicolas Cage, Keanu Reeves, Edward Norton, Matthew McConaughey and Tom Hanks.
Here’s a look at some of the movie titles available at no cost through Redbox:
- “The Illusionist” (starring Edward Norton)
- “Mazes and Monsters” (starring Tom Hanks)
- “Surfer, Dude” (starring Matthew McConaughey)
- “Boulevard” (starring Robin Williams)
- “King of California” (starring Michael Douglas)
While Redbox does curate content and brand it as Redbox-themed channels within the service, I was unable to find content actually produced by or for the Redbox free TV platform.
Redbox does a pretty nice job of presenting content in an easy-to-use platform with ads that are surprisingly tolerable.
How Bad Are the Ads?
No ads would be best, of course, but I really didn’t mind the length of the ads or their presentation.
For example, the ads that appeared intermittently during my movie were snappy and presented as though they were on a theater screen. I’d show you a visual, but the ability to take a screenshot on the app is disabled while content is being displayed.
As for the number of ads you can expect, I took some notes to give you an idea:
- There were nine total ad breaks during a movie with a 110-minute duration.
- There was one 30-second advertisement before the movie started and then eight additional breaks spaced appropriately through the film.
- The average length of those eight additional breaks was one minute. Usually, that was comprised of two 30-second commercials.
When you arrive at the “Watch Free” tab of the Redbox app, you’ll be prompted to choose between the “Free Live TV” and “Free On Demand” options at the top of your screen.
When you get to the on-demand menu, you can scroll through tiles to make your selection. The films are sorted by genres such as action or comedy.
The “Free Live TV” tab auto-plays, but it is easy to navigate through the channels. You can scroll through billboards that show what’s currently airing on each network.
Redbox also lets you preview on-demand content prior to selecting it.
This will provide you with some key information about the film such as its rating, runtime, release date and a brief synopsis as per the screenshot below.
Tips for Enjoying Redbox Streaming
Here are some tips for enjoying Redbox:
- Try to Forget the DVR Experience: If you’re watching a live streaming channel on Redbox, you can forget the pause or rewind options you’re likely accustomed to. I found myself trying to pause content with my Roku remote only to be disappointed time and time again.
- Set Your Content Expectations Appropriately: You’re not going to see the latest episode of NBC’s top comedy or CBS’s top drama, and you’re certainly not getting HBO-quality thrillers on this platform. What you will see is content from some reputable content producers in an easy-to-digest format. If you keep that in mind, you’re much less likely to be disappointed.
Final Thoughts on Redbox Streaming
Are you still trying to decide whether or not you should add Redbox to your streaming portfolio? Here are some pros and cons to think over:
Redbox Streaming: Pros and Cons
|FREE!||You must watch ads during content.|
|App and website are user friendly||Dated and unexciting categories of free content|
|No sign-up required||The volume of channel options is small compared to other free services.|
If you’re new to the free streaming TV world, you might walk away from your initial viewing of Redbox’s app with a little disappointment. After all, the content is mostly dated and likely nothing that will compel you to call your friends to tell them about something they just have to see.
But if you’re more experienced in this space and have limited expectations, you may come to appreciate the smoothness of the app and the ease with which you can access the content. Not having to sign up, sign in or give out personal information is a nice win in the free TV space.
Ultimately, you’re probably going to find a more enjoyable free streaming experience from services such as Pluto TV or Tubi TV because of better and bigger content libraries. But that shouldn’t stop you from checking out Redbox now and waiting to see if its content grows over time.
Do you have experience watching the Redbox streaming service? We’d love to hear your thoughts in our Clark.com community!