Paige Stegina | A&E Editor
Over time, the content of movies and television is bound to change, evolving with the people and the times to bring fresh new ideas and concepts to the world of entertainment. However, recently it has become even more clear that it is not just what we watch, but how we watch it that changes the tide of entertainment and how we access it. As streaming continues to dominate the entertainment world, not many would be surprised to see the announcement made on April 18th that Netflix’s classic red envelope DVD service is ending this September, if they knew that the service was still in operation at all. Even so, this service was the start of Netflix’s journey revolutionizing the way that viewers consume entertainment.
The DVD service celebrated its 25th anniversary in March of this year. Netflix began when co-founder of Netflix, Marc Randolph sent a compact disk in the mail to see if it would be damaged. By 1999, instead of going to a movie theater or catching reruns of a show on cable, Netflix offered thousands of movies and television titles that would be mailed straight to the subscriber’s home. Customers could rent these titles for a monthly rate, with no late fees as the subscription was based on how many titles an individual had in their possession. When the viewer was done with the movie or show, all they needed to do was send it back with the prepaid envelope to one of the hundreds of distribution centers. This was how Netflix was organized and run until 2007 when certain titles could be viewed online instead of mailed out. It was only in 2010 when Netflix offered customers a plan that was exclusively based on streaming entertainment online. Due to the success of this system, a year later Netflix completely separated the mail subscription and the online streaming services.
Netflix has certainly grown a significant amount over the years, adapting to the calls for convenience from consumers regarding entertainment. As Netflix co-CEO stated in a blog post, “Those iconic red envelopes changed the way people watched shows and movies at home — and they paved the way for the shift to streaming”. Now it seems like every channel has its own streaming service, with Disney Plus, HBO Max, Amazon Prime, Paramount Plus, among countless others. Now these streaming services go beyond simply providing access to television and movies, they create their own. Netflix alone has become even more popular with the rise of its own content, such as Stranger Things, Bridgeton, and Squid Game. Even if the DVD service is not as popular as streaming, it brought in a hefty $145.7 million last year alone, which means that around 1.3 million people are still subscribed to the service. The height of the DVD service is estimated to be about sixteen million subscribers. However, even this is a small number to the 231 million subscribers across the globe for Netflix’s streaming services.
It is hard to imagine that everything Netflix has become all started with sending a disk through the mail to see if it would scratch. The ending of this service shows just how quickly the entertainment world has changed within the past years. Movie theaters turned to Blockbusters, which transformed in a DVD service to bring it straight to your front door, today an on-demand streaming service where the viewer has thousands upon thousands of entertainment options at their fingertips. What was revolutionary is now ending, making way for the new services, new content, and new horizons in the ever changing fast paced entertainment industry.