The curtain is down on the business that got Netflix started.
On Friday morning, the company that pioneered streaming put an end to its red-envelope clad home-delivered movie service for good.
“In 1998, we delivered our first DVD,” the Los Gatos, California-based company said in a post on its website. “This morning, we shipped our last.”
The 2010 reboot of “True Grit” starring Jeff Bridges was the last of the 5.2 billion discs it shipped over 25 years featured. The first disc shipped in 1998 was the Michael Keaton-led “Beetlejuice.” Its most popular title was the 2009 Sandra Bullock-helmed “The Blind Side.”
“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,” the statement said. “It’s the end of an era, but the DVD business built our foundation for the years to come – giving members unprecedented choice and control, a wide variety of titles to choose from and the freedom to watch as much as they want.”
Netflix Co-CEO Ted Sarandos announced the plans to end the DVD service in April in what was billed as “The Final Season,” stating that the business became increasingly difficult to maintain as it shrank.
The service was born after co-founder Marc Randolph mailed a Patsy Cline CD to co-founder Reed Hastings to see if it could handle getting shipped through the US Postal Service. The disc arrived safely, and the duo launched a DVD-by-mail rental site in 1998. Among its early victims were brick and mortar video stores like Blockbuster. In 2011, the service was separated from the growing streaming service into a division called DVD.com.
Netflix said it had 40 million subscribers over the years, but was down to fewer than 1 million, and the selection of movies it offered also narrowed over time. Revenue dropped by 20% last year to about $145 million, a fraction of the $32 billion the company took in for the year.
It shipped a record 4.9 million DVDs in one day in 2011. The only envelope over the years that was not red was the one that delivered “Shrek” starting in 2004: it was an appropriate ogre-green.