On April 18th, Netflix, the company that nearly “invented” the idea of offering video content via streaming, announced through its website and its social media platforms, that the company will phase out and eventually end its DVD rental service this end with its final mailing done on September 29th.
According to the “FAQ” entry on its website, Netflix stated …After an incredible 25 year run, we’ve made the difficult decision to wind down at the end of September. 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…
According to stats, Netflix shipped out some 5.2B+ DVD from March of 1998 (its first shipped out title was the 1988 feature film Beetle Juice a.k.a Betelgeuse to its most-requested title, the sports drama The Blind Side. Those red envelopes were seen stuffed in various mailboxes throughout neighborhoods where for a monthly fee, one can “rent” all the DVDs a subscriber could get away with, only to return the disk back to its fulfillment center stated on its pre-addressed envelope.
But thanks to the popular method of providing video content through internet connections, the notion of sending physical DVDs somewhat lost its luster. The notion of viewing media through a disk drive isn’t as practical as it once was, considering the fact that many subscribers receive their content through their phones where none of these devices have the capacity to play a traditional CD/DVD disk.
And within the last few years, Netflix didn’t even advertise that their service was still available. If one wanted to know about it, one had to inquire.
There was an advantage of getting content through a DVD disk. Many titles out there are available where Netflix does not have the streaming rights for the programming. So if one wanted to view back episodes of the TV series Friends and didn’t have or desire access to HBO Max (soon to be known as “Max”), then receiving a DVD of the series was the only way to go. Ditto for titles where no streaming service holds streaming rights for various reasons. That is why people still hold on to their DVD collection as well as prerecorded titles that were once available through VHS videotapes! One person this writer knows has a collection of these out-of-print titles ranging from silent movies once offered from Reel Images of Sandy Hook, Connecticut to commercial releases of movies long forgotten, such as the 1982 release of Partners via Paramount Home Video. (PS…Partners isn’t available and it’s just as well since it’s a stupid movie! This is the same writer’s opinion!!)
Although Netflix will no longer be shipping DVDs doesn’t mean that Netflix in general won’t go away! Far from that, considering that this company, as well as its rivals mostly Apple TV and Amazon are creating content to not only compete with streaming, but to compete with traditional television as well as theatrical movies once limited to “Hollywood” studios. (Amazon’s latest entry to the theatrical market is the feature film Air that’s still bringing folks into movie houses to see a film that will eventually be able for access through Amazon TV with first dibs for Amazon Prime members!)
This isn’t the first time a traditional source for viewing media came in as part of domestic life only to fade away as nostalgia. Perhaps the biggest player of the “here-it-comes-there-it-goes” line is Blockbuster where at one time, it boasted thousands of outlets here and abroad. And when Dish Network purchased this company a few years back, they even tried to compete with Netflix offering mail subscriptions. The major difference between the two? Netflix envelopes were in “Netflix Red”, while Blockbusters were in “Blockbuster Blue”.
Although there were other video rental outlets that competed with Blockbuster, such as Hollywood Video among others, HV never offered a DVD mailing service since those stores were on their last legs with the battle of the DVD mailers were just getting started.
So if anyone wanted to do the ol’ Netflix and Chill, one better get their smart TVs (as well as a few “dumber” ones), fired up because that will be the only way to chill out, and perhaps actually watch the content!!
For those with a really “dumb” TV (A CRT tube set created before 2006), get that ol’ VCR turned on (or DVD player), and program that long forgotten title one may have still laying around, such as that classic comedy feature A Guide for the Married Man, a 1967 release from Twentieth Century Fox and via Key Video. Its theme may be from another era, but provides lotsa laughs for its targeted audience. “Nuff said!!
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