LOS ANGELES: Streaming powerhouse Netflix mailed out its last DVD in the United States on Friday, ending a service after 25 years that helped the company grow into an entertainment behemoth.
Founder Reed Hastings has often said he started the company in a pique of frustration with the Blockbuster rental store that charged him US$40 for returning the movie “Apollo 13” six weeks late.
Out of that eventually came the idea for a subscription-based DVD-by-mail service that let the customer hold onto the title as long as they wanted.
Once viewed, the DVD was slipped into a prepaid envelope and sent back to the company, with the subscriber’s next choice sent on its way in exchange.
“In 1998, we delivered our first DVD. This morning, we shipped our last,” the company said on its website yesterday.
“For 25 years, we redefined how people watched films and series at home, and shared the excitement as they opened their mailboxes to our iconic red envelopes.”
In April, when the decision to stop DVD rentals was announced, Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos said those “iconic” mailings “changed the way people watched shows and movies at home – and paved the way for the shift to streaming”.
On its site, the company said the mail service accumulated 40 million unique subscribers throughout its run, mainly in the US. The streaming platform currently has 238 million subscribers worldwide.
Netflix said that the first movie mailed out was the comedy “Beetlejuice”, and that more than 5.2 billion DVDs have been sent out since then.
The most-rented DVD was the US sports drama “The Blind Side” starring Sandra Bullock. That feel-good movie, about a white family that takes in a Black homeless child, was released in 2009, when the DVD service was at the height of its popularity.