After 25 years, Netflix is shutting down its DVD-by-mail service. The company posted a FAQ and blog stating they would ship out the last DVDs on September 29th, 2023. The first DVD Netflix ever shipped was a copy of “Beetlejuice” in 1998.
So some lucky customer could still create a neat full circle moment.
“After an incredible 25 year run, we’ve made the difficult decision to wind down at the end of September,” the FAQ states. “Our goal has always been to provide the best service for our members, but as the DVD business continues to shrink, that’s going to become increasingly difficult. Making 2023 our Final Season allows us to maintain our quality of service through the last day and go out on a high note.”
While Netflix started out as a business to replace the hassle of traditional video rental stores like Blockbuster. By offering a wider selection of films that shipped right to your door, with no late fees. Even though DVDs were once the company’s bread and butter. They have been trying to get away from them for some time now. Around ten years ago they tried to become a streaming-only service, and move DVD rentals over to a new company, Qwikster. This meant customers would have to contend with two totally different websites, logins, and bills. [Though to be fair, under their current model you are still effectively paying for two services if you still get DVDs]. To say the least, Qwikster went by the wayside qwikly.
With streaming becoming more and more pervasive, ditching DVDs probably doesn’t come as a shock to most. The revenue from the DVD division itself has been dropping sharply with each passing year. Going from $239 million in 2020, to $183 million in 2021, to $146 million in revenue in 2022. Now, in Q1 of this year, DVDs took in $32 million, which could signal a more drastic drop-off.
Netflix’s co-CEO Ted Sarandos made it clear in a 2021 interview that he had no desire to prop up the DVD side of Netflix. “Once your primary role is trying to save a business, you are dead,” Sarandos said. “When we made the transition from DVD to streaming, we never spent a minute trying to save the DVD business. Our future was always going to be in streaming, and any effort we spent trying to save the DVD business was energy that wasn’t being spent trying to create the streaming business.”
Though he did get a bit sentimental in the blog he wrote on the decision to ditch DVDs. “We feel so privileged to have been able to share movie nights with our DVD members for so long, so proud of what our employees achieved and excited to continue pleasing entertainment fans for many more decades to come,” he wrote. “To everyone who ever added a DVD to their queue or waited by the mailbox for a red envelope to arrive: thank you.”