September 29th marks a very sad day for the remaining one million loyal Netflix DVD subscribers including myself. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, the company announced earlier this year to pull the plug and close its DVD rental operations.
Needless to say, the DVD rental business for the company had been dwindling down ever since its streaming services became the primary choice for its subscribers all over the world and disrupted the video and movie industry.
To give you an idea, Netflix’s DVD revenue totaled $60 million for the first six months of 2023. In comparison, Netflix’s streaming revenue in the United States for the same period reached $6.5 billion. In 2022, the DVD business generated $145.7 million, down 20% year-over-year, which represented just 0.5% of its total revenue. That’s just half of one percent!
In their early beginnings in 1998, they couldn’t have chosen a more opportune time to get into the DVD rental business. DVD’s were at the beginning of their popularity. It also was the perfect format to ship and mail off to millions of customers due to its light weight and size. They wouldn’t have been very profitable during the days of VHS and Beta. Could you imagine Netflix stuffings bulky VHS or Beta tapes in the mail to make it in the video rental business to try to make a profit?
Instead of wasting time and gas and driving back and forth to rent and return the movies to brick and mortar video stores, customers only had to deal with their mailboxes with Netflix. They also had the luxury of returning it anytime, without any late fee to any mailbox. To many customers who are habitually late in returning their DVD rentals, it was a blessing.
Netflix was the primary reason why Blockbuster Video went out of business in 2010, along with the many independent mom and pop video stores that was virtually in nearly every neighborhood.
Nowadays, it’s unfathomable to even think that people actually made special trips back and forth to a video store just to rent and return a video.
As a Netflix subscriber, I had two gripes. There was no way to filter down movie titles that were only available in blu-ray when searching thru their inventory. The other issue that I had was trying to figure out what version of the movie that I would get if there was a title that had been released multiple times, I wouldn’t be able to tell which version of the movie I would get. Customer service was useless with those issues.
But, overall, I will miss this wonderful service.
Netflix not only changed our lives forever with the good old “red envelope” rental subscription for a good ten to fifteen years, but also with the introduction of their streaming services in 2007 it changed the world and the way we watched movies.
But is that a good thing?
Sure there are lots of great popular shows that are currently streaming on Netflix, but unfortunately the number of streaming titles in their catalog are very limited and cannot compete with the number of titles in the Netflix DVD catalog. Netflix streams about 4,000 titles at any given time, but during the peak of DVD rentals ten years ago, there were as many as 100,000 titles to choose from when DVD rental subscription peaked with over 20 million subscribers before streaming was even an option.
With their former DVD subscription, it was great to be able to search their vast inventory ranging from not just blockbuster feature films, but TV shows, documentaries, foreign films, and even music performances and videos. In addition, I loved being able to watch the extras and bonus features that were included on the DVD’s.
After mailing over five billion DVD’s and Blu-ray’s envelopes since 1998, Netflix has come to the end of an era for DVD rentals, but it certainly has been a great twenty five year run for Netflix and its appreciative customers, such as myself. It was a major part of my life.
In the future, I hope Netflix will realize that there is a demand for their own titles that should be released to home media. I do see some hope as “The Irishman” did get a release on the Criterion label, but would love to see more Netflix releases, such as “Squid Game” get a release, as well.
If they decide against releasing their movies to retail, they could at least compromise and have more special supplements streamable, like they did for “The Irishman”, with a Q&A session. I still want to know how certain movies were made along with a behind the scenes featurette, and watch interviews and commentaries with the filmmakers.
Now with my Netflix DVD subscription coming to an end, I may be forced to change my viewing habits and subscribe to their streaming services, but I know I will absolutely miss seeing Netflix’s red envelope in my mailbox every few days.
It’s like losing a good friend…