Netflix shutters its DVD rental business, marking the end of the red envelope era


Netflix will send out its last red envelope, marking an end to 25 years of mailing DVDs to members.

The company announced earlier this year it is shutting down its DVD-by-mail service, 16 years after it gradually shifted its focus to streaming content online.

Netflix will continue to accept returns of customers’ remaining DVDs until October 27.

Introduced in 1998 when Netflix first launched, the DVD service promised an easier rental experience than having to drive to the nearest Blockbuster or Hollywood Video. The red envelopes, which have long been synonymous with Netflix itself, littered homes and dorm rooms across the country.

Although the idea of receiving a DVD in the mail now may sound almost as outdated as dial-up internet, some longtime customers told CNN they continued to find value in the DVD option.
Colin McEvoy, a father of two from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and a self-described film fanatic, said he rushed through 40 movies in the last few weeks to get through the remainder of his queue before the service ends.

McEvoy has remained faithful to Netflix’s DVD service so he can keep watching Bollywood and obscure independent films not often found on streaming services.

“I was basically watching them as soon as I got them, and then returning the discs as quickly as possible to get as many as I could,” said McEvoy, who has been using Netflix’s DVD-by-mail service since 2001, just three years after it launched.

“I remember I was in high school when I first signed up for it, and the concept was so novel I had to really convince my dad that it was a legit service and not some sort of Internet scam,” said
McEvoy, who uses an old Xbox 360 to play his Netflix DVDs. “Now I have friends who’ve seen my red Netflix envelopes arrive in the mail, and either didn’t remember what they were or couldn’t believe that I still got the DVDs in the mail.”

Some other Netflix users stood by its DVD service not only for the selection but for added perks. Brandon Cordy, a 41-year-old graphic designer from Atlanta, previously told CNN he stuck with DVDs because many digital rentals don’t come with special features or audio commentaries.

There are other factors, too. Michael Inouye, an analyst at ABI Research, said some consumers may still not have access to reliable or fast enough broadband connections, or simply prefer physical media to digital, much in the way that some audio enthusiasts still purchase and collect CDs and records.


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