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End of an Era: Netflix Announces the Last Day They Will Send Out Physical DVDs

A pile of upside down DVD discs

It’s another nail in the coffin of physical media, as Netflix has announced its plans to shutter its DVD-by-mail business. The news, which quickly spread on Twitter, comes 25 years after the company was originally founded. DVD Netflix’s convenient delivery service eventually forced competitors like Blockbuster to shut down, but now, as the market for physical media like DVDs and Blu-rays continues to shrink, Netflix feels it can no longer “provide the best service for our members.” The company’s trademark red envelopes will soon be nowhere to be found.

This is truly a historic moment for the company—without its DVD subscription model, the Netflix streaming service we all use today likely wouldn’t exist. After all, Netflix pioneered its algorithmic recommendations through the DVD Netflix service. That same algorithm and the basic subscription model provide the very basis of Netflix’s entire streaming service as it functions today.

When will DVD Netflix shut down?

Netflix has officially announced that the final day they will send out DVDs will be September 29, 2023. What happens to their catalog after that remains to be seen, but plenty of DVD Netflix subscribers took to Twitter to lament the loss of the service.

While some users were quick to try to salvage what they could and ask Netflix whether their DVDs will soon be for sale (in my opinion, they absolutely should be), others were even warier, quick to point out what this could mean for the future of physical media and certain productions. Not every title ever made is available on the plethora of streaming services saturating the market today; licensing deals are complicated and fickle, and as Warner Bros. Discovery has recently proven, entire episodes of shows and movies can easily vanish into the ether, never to be seen again.

The shutdown of DVD Netflix feels especially ironic with the current WGA strike looming over Hollywood. Screenwriters feel that the residuals they are earning for shows and movies available on streaming services aren’t in line with how successful these productions often are, or how much work is being put into them. DVD sales can provide writers with residuals, too—but if physical media is being phased out completely, that’s yet another lost revenue stream for writers.

Physical media remains the only way to ensure that your favorite show or movie will always be available to you. If Netflix is shutting down its DVD subscription business, the chances of your favorite Netflix Originals ever getting another physical media release become smaller every day. I’m preemptively mourning the fact that here, in the U.K., the chances of me getting my hands on a Stranger Things box set after season 5 releases are slim to none.

(via The Hollywood Reporter, featured image: Cameron Bunney on Unsplash)

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El (she/her) has been working as a freelance writer for various entertainment websites for over a year, ever since she successfully completed her Ph.D. in Creative Writing. El's primary focus is television and movie coverage for The Mary Sue, including franchises like Marvel and Pokémon, but she is happy to pitch in with gaming content once in a while if it concerns one of the few video games she actually knows anything about. As much as she enjoys analyzing other people's stories, her biggest dream is to one day publish an original fantasy novel of her own.