Netflix's famed red envelopes will soon vanish, but not without one last twist. The entertainment service long ago shifted its focus to streaming, rather than mailing out DVDs. In April, co-CEO Ted Sarandos said that the service would ship its final DVDs on Sept. 29.
But it turns out subscribers might get more DVDs than they requested. The company said last week that by-mail subscribers have a chance at receiving one to 10 additional DVDs, mailed out on that final day.
"In case anyone reading this isn't opted into the marketing emails and wants a shot at getting 1-10 extra discs on the last day... here's the link!" the company said on Twitter-turned-X.
Only DVD Netflix subscribers are eligible for the promotion, and the site warns it's a limited, while-supplies-last offer. Interested subscribers must sign up by Aug. 29 at dvd.netflix.com/FinaleSurprise. The discs will go out a month later, on Sept. 29. Variety reports that the discs will be from the subscriber's own queue of ranked movies.
A representative for Netflix didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
But don't think that the company's DVD shutdown means you'll get to keep the movies in question. According to the New York Daily News, returns of the mystery DVDs will be accepted until Oct. 27, 2023.
Netflix DVD-only customers will receive a final bill in August and will continue to receive regular service until that Sept. 29 date. Streaming Netflix subscriptions won't be affected.
Netflix through the years
Netflix was founded in 1997, and began by both selling and renting DVDs by mail, though the sales portion of the business soon fizzled, with rentals taking center stage.
Over 25 years, the company says it shipped more than 5.2 billion discs and served 40 million unique subscribers. It all began with Beetlejuice, the very first DVD shipped out, on March 10, 1998. The most popular title was 2009 football drama The Blind Side, although Netflix didn't reveal how many times that film was rented. (That film's now in the news again, with subjects Michael Oher and Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy making different claims surrounding a conservatorship and profits from the movie.)
As DVD rentals lagged, the company introduced streaming media and video on-demand in 2007. In 2013, Netflix began to deliver its own original content on the service, starting with the acclaimed political drama House of Cards, starring Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright as a fictional political couple who make their way to the White House. In 2016, Netflix rebranded its DVD-by-mail service using the name and site DVD.com.
As for what you can do now if you're a disappointed DVD loyalist, you'll have to find a different way to get your movie fix. Most local libraries loan out DVDs. (If you're a library user, chances are good you can also stream some movies and TV shows for free via online services like Hoopla Digital and Kanopy.
Or perhaps it's finally time to consider watching movies and shows via a subscription-based streaming service. CNET offers guides to all the major services, including Netflix, Disney Plus, HBO Max, Hulu, Prime Video, Paramount Plus, Peacock, Apple TV Plus, Starz and YouTubeTV. Here's a guide to the different channels offered by various streaming services.