Netflix Says Goodbye to DVD Mailing Service

Netflix is ending its DVD mailing service - and the streamer issued a public goodbye, as the last day approaches.

We've reached the end of an era now that Netflix is finally ending its DVD mailing service. The revolutionary system of red-and-white envelopes that made Netflix the Blockbuster Video-killer of the 2000s is finally being shut down, and Netflix is officially saying its goodbyes. 

In a new social media post, the streaming giant wrote "Netflix will mail its final DVD on September 29, 2023. But the red envelope remains an enduring symbol of our love of entertainment." Included in the post was a picture of a billboard that Netflix bought and decorated with a big, glittering, sign that reads: "DVDs Will Always Be In Our DNA." 

Netflix was founded on August 29, 1997, by Marc Randolph and Reed Hastings in Scotts Valley, California. The sudden popularity of DVDs in 1998-1999 gave the pair a format of video that was much more cost-effective to ship than VHS tapes, and they quickly developed a subscription-based price model after an initial per-rental model, helping bring in repeat users and make the service a true staple of the entertainment industry. The mail-order DVDs and their ship-and-return signature red envelopes made Netflix a leading brand in home entertainment during the 2000s – but also contributed to the decline of video rental stores and chains like Blockbuster Video. Netflix's patent "dynamic queue" ordering system for DVD rentals kept it ahead of would-be competitors, and kept subscribers happy, even when having to wait for some selections. 

In 2007, Netflix launched its first trial run of a streaming media service with a video-on-demand feature to watch certain content on the platform. While DVDs were exponentially more popular than streaming at first, over the next decade Netflix led the charge in tipping those scales in the opposite direction, adding more and more content to streaming and producing scores of original streaming content for its platform. Licensing deals brought more and more popular and syndicated streaming content from a variety of studios, and as digital apps were developed Netflix was at the forefront of keeping its streaming service accessible through any app-based device it could. 

By now, in 2023, it's hard to imagine who would still want to use the Netflix DVD rental feature – just as it's hard to recall the days when the DVDs were looked at as the far better option. But that's how far we've come. 

Netflix Ends DVD Rentals

(Photo: Netflix)

In a statement about the end of its DVD rental service, Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos 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. So we want to go out on a high, and will be shipping our final discs on September 29, 2023. 

Those iconic red envelopes changed the way people watched shows and movies at home — and they paved the way for the shift to streaming. From the beginning, our members loved the choice and control that direct-to-consumer entertainment offered: the wide variety of the titles and the ability to binge watch entire series. DVDs also led to our first foray into original programming — with Red Envelope Entertainment titles including Sherrybaby and Zach Galifianakis Live at the Purple Onion. 

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 who ever added a DVD to their queue or waited by the mailbox for a red envelope to arrive: thank you. 

-Ted Sarandos