Did you know Netflix has still been sending out DVDs by mail all these years?
Well, as of today, it no longer does. It’s shipping out its final discs Friday morning, officially exiting the DVD business on which it was founded 26 years ago.
But the company is feeling a little nostalgic about this, so it’s unveiled a campaign—including the film below—celebrating its DVD roots and thanking viewers who were there long before streaming took over (and who may still have been ordering the discs to this day).
The film, made with Los Angeles creative studio Ways & Means, is a delightful little time capsule—with its shots of late-’90s Netflix UI, impressive factory footage of DVDs getting packaged up, and charmingly immersive storytelling showing how, for so many of us, that iconic red envelope just became a part of life.
The remixed version of Blink-182’s “All the Small Things” from 1999 is a nice touch, too. “Farewell to the era when Netflix came in the mail. Thanks for watching,” says the copy at the end—with the latter sentence bouncing around like a DVD screensaver.
“In 1998, we delivered our first DVD. This morning, we shipped our last,” Netflix said in a blog post this morning. “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. Today, we wanted to take the opportunity to thank you for watching. Thank you for loving our red envelopes, sharing countless movie nights with us at home and being part of our final season.”
The red envelope really was ubiquitous at the height of Netflix’s postal era. Netflix has said the first DVD it shipped was a copy of “Beetlejuice” on March 10, 1998 (a little more than six months after the company’s founding). “The Blind Side” was its most popular DVD rental ever. And it shipped a total of more than 5 billion DVDs over that quarter-century, with users returning 1.6 million discs every day at the rental peak in the late 2000s, sometimes overwhelming the U.S. Postal Service.
Along with the new film, Netflix also transformed its marquees on Sunset Boulevard and in Times Square to thank viewers for watching DVDs. The Sunset installation was composed of actual DVDs and red envelopes.
Netflix long recruited artists to design its interior envelopes with everything from holiday celebrations to business milestones. The final envelopes for September looked back at some of the company’s favorites.
The brand has also made a DVD Sleeping Bag for purchase at the Netflix store.
Finally, for a more comprehensive look back at the company’s history since 1997, check out the recap below, also made by Ways & Means, released in August 2022 for the official 25th anniversary.