Netflix’s long-running DVD rental service is coming to an end. Thre closure was announced today alongside the Q1 2023 earnings call. Netflix’s US-based DVD rental service was Netflix’s primary business for over two decades before its major transition and reinvention into the streaming giant that it is today.
Per the official Netflix “about us” site, in 1997, “Reed Hastings and Marc Randolph have an idea to rent DVDs by mail. They test the concept by mailing themselves a DVD. The DVD arrives intact, and the idea for Netflix is born.”
The website Netflix.com was launched in 1998, which was followed by the “movie recommendation system” launch in 2000. One year later, Netflix officially adopted the red color branding that’s associated with Netflix to this day. In 2011, signaling the shift into streaming, Netflix rebranded its DVD rental service into DVD.com. In the early days, you could directly rent DVDs from within the Netflix streaming website, although eventually, that functionality was scrapped.
The most recent major news to come out of Netflix’s DVD platform was the fact that it celebrated shipping its five billionth DVD back in September 2019. In 2019, there were reportedly 2 million members still receiving DVDs from DVD.com.
It’s been no secret, however, that Netflix’s DVD service had declined in subscribers and popularity for many years. The service pulled in $146 million in revenue in 2022, down from $183 million in revenue in 2021 and $239 million in 2020.
The DVD rental service continued adding new releases monthly (see our roundup for the April 2023 releases here), adding the newest theatrical releases from all major distributors like Disney, Warner Bros, Universal, A24, and Sony. It also housed a huge assortment of box sets too from all the major TV distributors.
Netflix DVD to Close in September 2023
In an official blog post from Netflix Co-CEO Ted Sarandos, he stated, “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. So we want to go out on a high, and will be shipping our final discs on September 29, 2023.”
Netflix also posted an FAQ on its DVD.com website, which states they will continue to accept returns until October 27th, 2023, with all subscriber’s final bills for rentals taking place in August.
Netflix’s various socials, including the one for Netflix’s DVD service, confirmed the news:
On September 29th, 2023, we will send out the last red envelope. It has been a true pleasure and honor to deliver movie nights to our wonderful members for 25 years. Thank you for being part of this incredible journey, including this final season of red envelopes. pic.twitter.com/9lAntaL2ww
— DVD Netflix (@dvdnetflix) April 18, 2023
Alongside the announcement, Netflix announced a few stats too:
- Beetlejuice was the first DVD shipped on March 10th, 1998
- The Blind Side has been the most shipped DVD in its history
- 40 million unique subscribers since inception.
Your last chance to rent from Netflix’s DVD service will be up until the end of September 2023, with the service ceasing sending new mailings on September 29th, 2023.
RIP Netflix DVD.