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Goodbye, Red Envelopes: Netflix Will Soon Ship Its Last Rental DVD

Procrastinating movie watchers, you've now got a deadline to finish up watching those rented discs.

Gael Cooper
CNET editor Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." She's been a journalist since 1989, working at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, Twin Cities Sidewalk, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and NBC News Digital. She's Gen X in birthdate, word and deed. If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
Expertise Breaking news, entertainment, lifestyle, travel, food, shopping and deals, product reviews, money and finance, video games, pets, history, books, technology history, generational studies. Credentials
  • Co-author of two Gen X pop-culture encyclopedia for Penguin Books. Won "Headline Writer of the Year"​ award for 2017, 2014 and 2013 from the American Copy Editors Society. Won first place in headline writing from the 2013 Society for Features Journalism.
Gael Cooper
2 min read
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A Netflix red mailer is shown in this 2007 file photo. 

Netflix

Those bright red envelopes heralding the arrival of a DVD from Netflix are about to take their final bow. The media company will ship its final discs on Sept. 29, Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos said in a statement Tuesday. The DVD rental service has been operating for 25 years.

"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," Sarandos said. "Our goal has always been to provide the best service for our members, but as the DVD business continues to shrink, that's going to become increasingly difficult. Making 2023 our final season allows us to maintain our quality of service through the last day and go out on a high note."

 A frequently asked questions list outlines the future for subscribers: Final discs will be shipped on Sept. 29, and returns of rented discs will be accepted through Oct. 27. Customers will receive a final bill in August and will continue to receive service until that Sept. 29 date. Streaming Netflix subscriptions won't be affected.

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.

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 and may also offer them as free loans to be viewed via online streaming via such services as 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, StarzYouTube and more.