Redbox turns to Wurl to boost its free-with-ads streaming TV

Redbox aims to speed up its entry into FAST (free ad-supported TV) by getting backup from a back-end provider of streaming services.

Redbox, based in Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois, announced Thursday that it had signed a deal with Wurl to use that Palo Alto, California firm’s streaming-distribution and streaming-advertising services to expand Free Live TV, the service it launched in February of 2020.

Wurl, founded in 2017, earlier added A&T and AMC Networks as customers in 2020.

“By utilizing Wurl’s cloud-based technology and access to content providers and channels in the Wurl Network, Redbox will be able to efficiently and rapidly add a wide array of free channels to its service,” Wurl CEO Sean Doherty said in an advance copy of the press release. “Redbox has a long history of providing choice and value to consumers, and we are thrilled to be working with them to continue that legacy via their FAST platform.”

(FierceVideo named Wurl co-founder and senior vice president for operations Sean Doherty, Jr., to its Emerging Leaders Awards list in 2020.)

“As we continue to expand our ad-supported offering including Free Live TV, it’s important that we deliver a diverse and compelling line-up of entertainment channels that we know our customers will both love and be able to easily access directly from the Redbox App,” said Chris Yates, Redbox on Demand general manager, in a statement. “Wurl delivers great content and technology that will continue to delight our audience.”

Redbox, first known for its DVD-rental kiosks, launched Free Live TV with almost 30 channels (including three of its own) but had grown that selection to 60 channels in the summer of 2020 and then 100 as of mid-July, including Cheddar News, Bloomberg Television, the Nashville Channel, the Bob Ross Channel, Court TV, Tastemade and Funny or Die.

That free-with-ads service now provides streaming apps for connected TVs from Vizio, LG and other firms using Google’s Android TV; Roku, Chromecast and Xbox media players; iOS and Android phones and tablets; and Windows, Mac and Chromebook computers.