Thursday, October 8, 2009

Data Mining a Redbox + A Story

Not sure if they do this or if it is even legal, but the folks at Redbox are sitting on a mine of data. The way Redbox works is you swipe your credit card and it vends you a movie of your choice. Think about all the statistics they could track through their one dollar a night DVD vending machines: Average time a movie is rented for, at what time do people typically rent movies and return them, where they are when they use the machine each time, the most popular movies, which age group likes what movies, how often do users rent movies and is it correlated to other events, does the same person use the same redbox regularly, what locations have a higher rental rate based on the store they are located in, etc. Redbox could use the results to stock their machines accordingly. Maybe the machines in Detroit have a higher rental rate for uplifting flicks or comedies and a machine in Florida needs to vend mostly horror movies. The possibilities are endless.

I was returning a DVD to a Redbox machine at my local Kroger grocery store the other day and there was an old man next to me purchasing a lottery ticket. My first thought was “dude, you’re like sixty years old. If you win the lottery you’re not going to have time to enjoy it.” But that’s neither here nor there. So, I was sticking the movie into the machine and the man says to me “Those things are a great deal. I like to rent the DVDs for a night, burn them, and then watch them on my own time. It’s much better than downloading.” Whoa! This creepy old man is illegally burning and downloading movies? That’s just so wrong, on more than one level.

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