It's the end of an era. Netflix is set to end its DVD-by-mail rental service, a once-revolutionary concept that paved the way for its popular video streaming platform. The service, which delivered films and TV shows in red-and-white envelopes, will mail its final discs on September 29. Although the DVD service was once Netflix's primary revenue source with over 16 million subscribers, the numbers have dwindled as streaming became the go-to option for entertainment. As the company shifts focus to boost profits, the DVD service is being shuttered due to its diminishing financial viability.
But the DVD-by-mail service still has die-hard fans who continue to subscribe because they treasure finding obscure movies that are aren't widely available on video streaming. Many subscribers still wax nostalgic about opening their mailbox and seeing the familiar red-and-white envelopes awaiting them instead of junk mail and a stack of bills.
The service's history dates back to 1997 when Netflix co-founder Marc Randolph went to a post office in Santa Cruz, California, to mail a Patsy Cline compact disc to his friend and fellow co-founder Reed Hastings. Randolph, Netflix's original CEO, wanted to test whether a disc could be delivered through the U.S. Postal Service without being damaged, hoping eventually to do the same thing with the still-new format that became the DVD.
The Patsy Cline CD arrived at Hastings' home unblemished, prompting the duo in 1998 to launch a DVD-by-mail rental website that they always knew would be supplanted by even more convenient technology.