For many people, Netflix is considered one of the original platforms for streaming films and TV online - but how many people remember that Netflix actually started out by renting DVDs to its viewers. That’s right, back in 1998, audiences would have DVDs sent out to them through the mail by Netflix, which, after watching, they would then return.
While Netflix launched its online streaming service in 2007, it has continued to send and receive DVDs - that is, until now. That’s right, Netflix is set to “wind down” its DVD rental service later this year after 25 years, the company’s co-chief executive Ted Sarandos has announced.
Sarandos said that due to struggling growth, the streaming giant would be shipping its final discs on 29 September.
This is everything you need to know.
What has Netflix said?
In a blog post titled “Netflix DVD – The Final Season”, Sarandos hailed the “iconic red envelopes” as having “paved the way” for the shift to streaming.
Sarandos said: “After an incredible 25 year run, we’ve decided to wind down DVD.com 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.”
The blog post also included some statistics about the DVDs that have been sent out over the years, including:
- The first DVD that was shipped was Beetlejuice, on 10 March 1998
- The most popular title with DVD renters is The Blind Side
- Over 5.2 billion DVDs have been shipped
What’s going on with the password crackdown?
Something that a lot of Netflix subscribers have been paying close attention to is Netflix’s long awaited crackdown on the sharing of account passwords outside a single household.
The company is set to roll out a number of changes In a bid to prevent multiple households using the one account. While logins will still be shareable within the same household, any devices that use the account must be in the account holder’s primary location.
Netflix will treat accounts as “trusted” if they connect to a primary location, meaning that people can still use their account elsewhere as long as they log into the primary location every 31 dogs. However, if a device is used outside of the house consistently, that device may need to be verified before it can watch anything. Verification can come in the form of a code sent via email or text and must be entered within 15 minutes.
Locations can be detected via IP addresses, device IDs and account activity, so Netflix can see where users are logging in from and may intervene if they suspect password sharing.
Netflix has also been trialling a feature in which users can pay to share their password outside of their immediate household. This change has been launched in parts of Central and South America, with paid sharing costing around an extra £2 to £3 per month.
On Tuesday (18 April), Netflix said that it was delaying further rollouts of the password sharing crackdown. It was initially set to be launched late in the first quarter, but now will take place by the end of june.
In its earnings release, Netflix said: “While this means that some of the expected membership growth and revenue benefit will fall in Q3 rather than Q2, we believe this will result in a better outcome from both our members and our business.”