Although it’s easy to forget, Netflix was originally a mail-order DVD rental service—and that business still exists, at least for a few more weeks. Back in April, the streaming giant announced that it would be shutting down DVD.com on September 29, 2023, after 25 years of mailing discs in red envelopes. But what subscribers remain have just received some happy news.
“We’ve decided to wind down DVD.com later this year,” wrote Ted Sarandos, the co-CEO of Netflix, in the shutdown announcement. “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.” He said that the final discs would be shipped at the end of September.
But those discs? Customers will get to keep them—for free. On X, the site formerly known as Twitter, the official DVD Netflix account confirmed that subscribers would be able to keep any DVDs they still had after the service shuts down. “We are not charging for any unreturned discs after 9/29,” the service posted. “Please enjoy your final shipments as long as you like!”
And this is coupled with an offer to send subscribers a bumper final shipment of DVDs from their queues. As reported by Collider last week, subscribers who opt-in will get up to 10 random DVDs from their queue, not matter what plan they’re on. Supplies are limited and it’s a random selection so, presumably, you shouldn’t expect to end up with all three extended editions of The Lord of the Rings, Titanic, or other ridiculously popular movies. But still, free DVDs!
If you receive any discs you really don’t want to keep, Netflix will accept returns until October 27, so you don’t need to have that copy of Daddy Day Care cluttering up your house.
Of course, no storage medium lasts forever, so customers won’t be able to enjoy their final shipments for eternity—but they should last a while. With perfect storage and handling conditions, DVDs have an expected lifespan of as long as 100 years, though estimates vary. Given that these discs are coming second-hand from Netflix, they could be quite pre-loved. Still, even though Netflix is shutting down, its DVDs are going to stick around for a long time.
While this is definitely a great send-off for existing subscribers, it’s still sad to see Netflix’s original business shutdown. According to the announcement, the service shipped more than 5.2 billion DVDs to 40 million unique subscribers over its lifetime. Those numbers pale in comparison to the billions of hours of content that the more than 230 million global Netflix subscribers watch every month, which really shows how successful the pivot to streaming was for the company.
Now though, subscribers are waiting for their red envelopes one last time. Once they’re sent, Netflix will be a streaming-only company.