Netflix to end DVD rental service after 25 years as streaming takes over

Netflix will discontinue its DVD rental service later this year, drawing the curtain on a remarkable 25-year journey, as disclosed by the company’s co-CEO.

Ted Sarandos announced that the streaming titan, facing sluggish growth, intends to send out its final discs on September 29.

Launching in 1997, Netflix supplied TV series and movie DVDs through the mail, offering a fresh alternative to conventional video rental stores.

The enterprise’s shift to streaming in 2007 created a seismic impact on the industry, sparking a monumental transformation in domestic visual media consumption habits.

In a blog post titled ‘Netflix DVD – The Final Season’, Mr Sarandos lauded the pioneering influence of the iconic red envelopes in the evolution towards streaming.

Last year, Netflix unveiled a budget-friendly, ad-supported subscription tier and began efforts to restrict account sharing among multiple households.

This decision was triggered by waning subscriber numbers, intensifying rivalry, and escalating inflation that strained family finances.

Following these changes, subscriber growth demonstrated a positive trajectory, indicating that the cost-effective option successfully entices subscribers in the face of competitors like Amazon Prime Video and Disney+.

Mr Sarandos, in a Tuesday post, wrote, “After an incredible 25-year run, we’ve decided to wind down later this year.”

“Our goal has always been to provide the best service for our members, but as the business continues to shrink that’s going to become increasingly difficult.”

Mr Sarandos said he wanted to “go out on a high note”, with the last discs being shipped on September 29, 2023.

He said: “Those iconic red envelopes changed the way people watched shows and movies at home – and they paved the way for the shift to streaming.

“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.

“To everyone whoever added a DVD to their queue or waited by the mailbox for a red envelope to arrive: Thank you.”

Last year, Netflix initiated a clampdown on users sharing their accounts with other households.

With the discontinuation of the DVD rental service, certain titles like Sleepaway CampMartinThe Battle of Algiers, Earth vs. The Flying Saucers, and Legendary Weapons of China will no longer be accessible.

On Twitter some customers have been sharing their favourite titles exclusive to the disc service, while others are encouraging Netflix to make all ‘DVD only’ TV shows and movies accessible through streaming.

AI developer Sean Hannifin, based in Virginia, was one of the users who expressed disappointment over the loss.

“So many movies that aren’t streaming that I now won’t be able to watch,” wrote Mr Hannifin.

“For example, recently rented Without a Clue from 1988 starring Ben Kingsley and Michael Caine.

“Not streaming anywhere, probably too obscure, no interest. Netflix DVD was the only way to get it (legally, other than just buying it). Many such examples.

“More examples: Krull (1983), Hardware (1990), The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967), Into Great Silence (2005), The Illustrated Man (1969), Passion (1996). Some I can digitally rent, but too much $$ and often a time limit. Some I can’t even digitally rent.”

The company announced on Tuesday that it is postponing the wider implementation of its password-sharing restriction, initially scheduled for the end of the first quarter.

The expanded enforcement will now begin by the end of June.

“While this means that some of the expected membership growth and revenue benefit will fall in Q3 rather than Q2, we believe this will result in a better outcome from both our members and our business,” Netflix said in its earnings release.

-with AAP

Topics: DVD, Netflix
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