Executives for streaming video services used the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas to address the problem of too many confusing online movie and TV choices.
The services that now dominate Internet video delivery -- Netflix, Amazon and Wal-Mart's Vudu -- offer a mixture of new and classic movies and TV shows that supplement what viewers already receive on cable or satellite TV. But the consumer can end up playing a game of "Where's Waldo?" as he or she hunts the various services to find which one offers a specific film.
Executives at cometing services Redbox Instant by Verizon and M-Go are launching competing solutions to tackle this confusion by designing one-stop solutions for the consumer. M-Go directs the viewer to his chosen movie, or refers him to another service if the movie isn't available on M-Go.
Redbox Instant offers a more limited solution, and only within Redbox.
"It's intended to establish a single interface for the consumers that, if everybody plays along, helps the consumer answer the question: How can I watch that movie?" said Lincoln Wallen, chief technical officer of DreamWorks Animation, one of the investors -- along with Technicolor -- in M-Go.
The Burbank-based M-Go online entertainment service has licensing deals with five of the six major Hollywood studios. The digital store launched last week, and in Las Vegas executives showed off its clean, simplified look, which resembles a handful of playing cards arrayed on the screen from which the user picks his or her movie choice.
Redbox Instant by Verizon, an online movie service that is in the early test phase of rolling out its streaming movie service, attempts to make clear to the viewer the options for watching the movie they're searching for: whether it can be streamed online as part of a monthly subscription fee, reserved as a DVD and collected at a nearby Redbox kiosk, or rented for a fee.
The Redbox Instant service has a pair of subscription offers for consumers: $8 a month to stream newer films such as “The Hunger Games” and rent four DVD rentals from Redbox kiosks, or an Internet-only service that costs $6 a month.
"What differentiates our service is this brand promise: We offer the faster, simpler way to find the movie you want to watch right now, in a sea of options," said Redbox Instant Chief Executive Shawn M. Strickland.