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RIP, Netflix DVD rentals: the final discs have gone out

After 25 years, the era of Netflix DVD rentals is finally over...

RIP, Netflix DVD rentals: the final discs have gone out
Andrew Williams
29 September 2023

After 25 years of service, Netflix has sent out its final DVDs.

Netflix announced it was winding down its DVD rental service back in April and, finally, the last discs were sent out this week.

More than five billion discs have been rented out in its years on the job, and the final faithful were granted a bunch of freebie discs as a last hurrah, a final thank you.

It all got a bit emotional over on Twitter/X, with fans of the service posting their memories of rentals of the past.

Some Netflix DVD rental users say they’ve had more than 1000 DVDs and Blu-rays sent to them since they first signed up.

Netflix’s reportedly had more than 20 million subscribers at its peak. But as its numbers dwindled to just over the million mark in 2023, Netflix decided to retire the service.

It is currently estimated to have more than 230 million streaming subscribers, dwarfing the DVD-renter crowd even at its peak.

In that heyday, Netflix supported a library of more than 100,000 titles. Never used one of these services before?

You’d setup a wishlist of titles, and Netflix would send you the top-ranked ones available. There were three tiers of subscription in the end, letting you have up to three DVDs rented at a time.

Netflix used specialised sorting machines to pick and unpack the discs from their iconic red envelopes, robots capable of processing 4500 DVDs an hour. That’s more than one a second.

If you’re in the UK and wondering what this is all about, yes, Netflix’s DVD rental service never launched here. But we did have LoveFilm, which was bought by Amazon and was a precursor to Prime Video. It closed down in 2017 and was also kinda brilliant.

“It is very bittersweet,” says Netflix co-founder Marc Randolph, on the end of the company’s DVD rentals ending. “We knew this day was coming, but the miraculous thing is that it didn’t come 15 years ago.”

What was the most-rented Netflix DVD of them all? 2009’s The Blind Side starring Sandra Bullock, which tells us a lot about when the DVD rental service was at its peak.

Gutted you missed the era of DVD rentals? In the UK you can still get your slice of disc-based retro entertainment with Cinema Paradiso, while US folks can try Redbox or GameFly, which sends out both games and movies.

Alternatively, don’t forget your local library, which may well rent out recently-released movies.