All About, Return Times, How It Works & More

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By now, most people are familiar with the brightly colored kiosks that are ubiquitous at convenience and grocery stores. These kiosks dispense DVDs and Blu-Rays for a low rental price.


However, fewer people know that Redbox has expanded its offerings to include live television channels and on-demand programming. If you’re a cord-cutter who is interested in finding additional, versatile ways to stream, then Redbox could be a solid option for you.

Let’s explore Redbox, its beginning and how it’s grown. You may discover that this is one expanding company that has more to offer than you realized.

What Is Redbox?

In a few short years, Redbox has become a familiar company. You can hardly visit a convenience or grocery store without running into a bright red kiosk. These are where you can quickly and easily pick up DVDs or Blu-Rays of the latest Hollywood releases plus some old favorites.

Renting is easy and has few strings attached. Just choose the film you want to see, insert your credit card to pay and the disc is dispensed. The total you pay is based on the number of days that you keep the movie. You can return the disc at any Redbox location, even if it is not the same one where you completed the rental.


If you are really excited about seeing a particular movie, you have the option of reserving your choice on the Redbox website in advance. Just visit, provide your location and search for the movie you want. The website will tell you which kiosks in your area have the movie for which you’re looking.

When you get to the Redbox, insert your credit card to pick up the reserved title. The same conditions apply with regard to cost and returns.

So far, so good, but did you know that Redbox now offers options such as live television channels and on-demand content? These are more recent offerings, which means that they may not be familiar to you.

Don’t worry, because you’ve come to the right place to learn about everything that Redbox has to offer.

A Brief History of Redbox

Who came up with the idea to rent DVDs from a kiosk? It turns out that we have McDonald’s to thank for this great idea.

Back in 2002, McDonald’s Ventures LLC was looking for a way to increase foot traffic in all of its brick-and-mortar locations. Many ideas were researched, but the idea of being able to rent movies in a fast food restaurant was too good to pass up.


The powers-that-be at McDonald’s felt that people who wanted to rent a movie might as well do so at one of their restaurants. Hopefully, families who were looking for an evening of entertainment would be hungry too, so they would order dinner while there. At the same time, the corporate heads felt certain that people who came to McDonald’s for a meal wouldn’t be able to resist the convenient opportunity to rent a movie. Thus, the restaurants could have two revenue streams.

The idea took off quickly. The first kiosks were placed in certain McDonald’s locations in 2004 in Denver, Colorado. Customer response was swift and enthusiastic. They loved being able to pick up dinner and a movie in one place.

Soon, McDonald’s had kicked the program into high gear, placing Redbox kiosks in many of its restaurants across the 48 contiguous states. By 2005, McDonald’s had spun off the venture into its own company. McDonald’s would sell off its share of Redbox to Coinstar, Inc. in 2009.

Redbox Expands its Services

Redbox has been around for approximately two decades, and the concept of being able to pick up a movie in a convenient location is still one that appeals to many people.

At the same time, consumers are moving toward dealing less with physical media. They don’t buy CDs anymore in favor of downloading music digitally. Similarly, they are becoming more likely to digitally download a film that they want to rent or buy so that they do not have to worry about storing the discs or risking damage to the discs that might make them unwatchable.

Redbox seems to have been anticipating the desire for people to be less hands-on with media. While this shift was occurring, people began shedding their cable subscriptions in droves. Gone were the cable boxes sitting on top of television sets. Gone as well were the cable subscriptions with thousands of channels that never got watched anyway.

People were opting for streaming services that they could watch on their terms. Redbox clearly thought that they could capitalize on this trend as well.


That is why it is now possible to watch live TV for free with Free Live TV service from Redbox. Additionally, you can buy or rent movies and television series through the company’s On Demand service.

Because it is live television, you will have to watch commercials with the Free Live TV service. Although renting films does cost money, you do not have to pay a monthly fee for the program. Basically, this is a pay-as-you-go proposition. Redbox also provides a Free On Demand service, which conveniently makes it possible to watch movies without paying and without having to use a disc.

Free Live TV and On Demand from Redbox

In February 2020, the company introduced Redbox Free Live TV. The service made it possible for viewers to stream selected television shows. Finding syndicated shows and old favorites is easy on this platform, but don’t expect to come across any readily recognizable, big-name cable networks or the broadcast news shows to which you’re accustomed.

Redbox Free Live TV is available on computers, smartphones and smart TVs as well as streaming devices.

Users may select from dozens of channels and series. For instance, you could watch Divorce Court or Forensic Files. Alternatively, you can choose a channel, such as BNC or ConTV, both of which are known to switch up their content for various hours of the day. This is live TV, so you don’t have as much control as you do over your streaming services, meaning that you cannot fast-forward, pause or rewind. Of course, you’ll also have to watch commercials.

Redbox On Demand is another service that allows viewers to stream, buy or rent movies, with each film costing just a few dollars. Widely available on computers in addition to select streaming devices and smart TVs, the service also provides an option for Free On Demand. If you go with a Free On Demand title, you will have to watch advertisements, and you are not likely to find many recent, big-name Hollywood releases there.

Watching Free Live TV on a Desktop Computer

Watching Free Live TV from Redbox on your computer is a cinch. Just visit the website to get started. You can use any web browser that you prefer.

At the website, simply click the “Play” button on any of the offerings. Some of your choices may include The Bob Ross Channel, Unsolved Mysteries and Court TV.

Watching On Demand or Free On Demand on a Desktop Computer

Using your favorite web browser, visit the Redbox On Demand website. The home page will display featured movies organized by category. For instance, you may see categories such as “Trending Now,” “New Movies to Rent” and “Theatrical Home Release.”


If you would like to browse for titles by genre, just let your cursor hover over the “On Demand” tile near the top of your screen. This will activate a drop-down menu from which you can choose categories such as documentary, drama, comedy and action.

On the general On Demand page, you’ll notice that “Free on Demand” has a separate row if you would like to watch a movie that won’t cost you a penny.

Once you see the title that you want, just click on it. This brings up an “About” page for that movie. You may have the option to “Rent at the Kiosk” if you would like to reserve and pick up a physical copy of the film. Alternatively, you can rent a digital copy by selecting “Rent on Demand.” This also is where you can purchase a digital copy of the movie by clicking on “Buy on Demand.”

Using the Mobile App to Watch Free Live TV or Free On Demand

To watch on the mobile app, you will first need to visit the Google Play Store or the Apple App store to download the Redbox app. Once downloaded, open the app and tap on the “Watch Free” tile located on the bottom right-hand corner.

At the top of the screen, you can toggle for either Free Live TV or Free On Demand. When you find something that you would like to see, just click on “Play.”

What Can You Watch with Redbox Streaming?

It’s good to know a few rules before you start streaming with Redbox. For instance, if you rent a title, you have 30 days to begin watching it. Once you start watching, you have 48 hours to finish it. This is definitely different from how the service works when you rent a physical disc, so it’s wise to be aware of these parameters before you rent.

Redbox categorizes its live channels under headings such as “Crime and Scandal” and “Entertainment.” Crime and Scandal is where you’ll find Unsolved Mysteries, Divorce Court, Forensic Files and even a TMZ channel. Navigate to Entertainment to see things like clips from Family Feud and The Bob Ross Channel.

This all might seem a bit underwhelming. After all, you can get much of the same content by browsing through YouTube and other streaming services that you probably already have.

Redbox On Demand is a much more promising venture. Take a look at the “Redbox Cinema” section to peruse movies that are probably still playing in theaters. They are more expensive than what you might be used to if you are accustomed to picking up movies from a Redbox kiosk. You could spend $20 to either rent or buy one of these titles.

If you’re on a tight budget and want to see a movie without blowing $20, start browsing the movie section where all of the titles are priced at $1.99 or less. You’ll find tons of titles there, including old favorites as well as titles that you may have been wanting to see for years. You’ll see all sorts of James Bond films too, spanning the entire timeline of this venerated catalog.

Television series can be watched through Redbox On Demand too. Better Call Saul, This Is Us, Fargo, New Girl and many others all are represented. You can buy whole seasons too.

Should You Try Redbox?

Some people still love dropping by the Redbox kiosk to pick up a movie when they are shopping for groceries or grabbing a bite at McDonald’s. There’s nothing wrong with that. Renting discs from the kiosks is inexpensive, convenient and flexible. You can keep the discs for several days if you like, and then return them to any kiosk that’s easy to reach.

However, Redbox has expanded their options to include Free Live TV and on-demand programming. To watch Free Live TV, you don’t have to sign in or enter a password. No credit card is needed either. If you just want to zone out with some Bob Ross, it’s cheap and easy to do so.

On-demand content costs you money, but the prices are competitive and in line with similar services offered by other companies. You just might find that Redbox is a welcome addition to your streaming services.

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