Netflix announced today in its first-quarter earnings letter — and in a note to, well, everyone — that it will stop shipping DVDs on September 29, 2023. That’s a big deal because Netflix has had its legacy DVD service all this time — and it’s what allowed the company to become the global leader in streaming entertainment in the first place.
“After an incredible 25-year run, we’ve decided to wind down DVD.com later this year,” Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos wrote in its letter to shareholders. “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 hard. So we want to go out on a high, and will be shipping our final DVDs on September 29, 2023.”
Netflix, of course, started as a DVD rental company. You’d pay a monthly fee and then get a DVD (or two or three) in the mail, along with a return label. You’d watch the movie as much as you wanted, then ship it back and get the next thing in your queue. It was a phenomenal idea in a time in which individual DVDs would cost as much (or more) as a Netflix subscription, and it made countless flicks and series available outside of cable reruns.
While Netflix ushered in the streaming era, it never actually got rid of its plans that shipped DVDs and Blu-ray discs. You could still get a single disc at a time for $10 a month, two for $15 a month, or three at once for $20 a month. And while that may sound a little crazy in 2023, it’s also perfectly sane for those who don’t have broadband connections (and that’s still far more people than you might think), as well as those who just want the better quality that’s often available on Blu-ray.
“From the very beginning,” the letter to shareholders continued, “our members loved the choice and control that direct-to-consumer entertainment offered, including the variety and quality of our titles and the ability to binge-watch entire series. DVD paved the way for streaming, ensuring that so much of what we started will continue long into the future.”
Netflix gave some stats along with the sad news. The first DVD it shipped was Beetlejuice, on March 10, 1998. Since then, it’s shipped more than 5.2 billion DVDs to some 40 million unique subscribers. Its most popular DVD was The Blind Side.
In other news, Netflix announced that the company grew to 232.5 million global paid memberships, up 4.9 percent year over year.
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