California’s ANTA CRUZ: In the era of online video streaming, Netflix’s innovative DVD-by-mail rental business has been cast aside as a relic. However, there is still a loyal, if dwindling, following of devotees like Amanda Konkle, who happily pay to receive those discs in the recognizable red-and-white envelopes.
Konkle, a resident of Savannah, Georgia, who has been a Netflix DVD-by-mail subscriber since 2005, stated, “When you open your mailbox, it’s still something you truly desire instead of simply bills.”
Konkle and other devoted DVD members still get a slight thrill, but it’s still being determined how long that will last. Netflix declined to comment on this article; however, co-founder and co-CEO Reed Hastings hinted that the DVD-by-mail service would be discontinued around 2023 during a media event in 2018.
When it happens, not if, Netflix will discontinue a service that has sent more than 5 billion discs across the US since it began operating more than 25 years ago. And it will serve as a reminder of the thousands of Blockbuster video rental locations that failed to survive the danger posed by Netflix’s DVD-by-mail substitute by closing their doors.
Since Hastings chose to separate its DVD-by-mail service from a then-emerging video streaming service in 2011, its eventual collapse has been foreseeable. At the time, Hastings proposed renaming the service as Qwikster. This disastrous suggestion was so widely mocked that “Saturday Night Live” parodied it. It ultimately chose DVD.com as its present, more practical handle. Currently, the organization is housed in a plain office in Fremont, California, which is around 20 miles away from Netflix’s modern campus in Los Gatos.
According to calculations based on Netflix’s restricted disclosures of the service in its quarterly filings, the DVD-by-mail service formerly had more than 16 million users. That number has since dropped to an estimated 1.5 million subscribers, all of whom are in the United States. There are currently 223 million users of Netflix’s video streaming service globally, including 74 million in the United States and Canada.
Marc Randolph, the company’s first CEO, in a coffee shop next to the post office in Santa Cruz, California, remarked, “The DVD-by-mail business has left behind the Netflix that everyone now knows and watches today.”