News that You Didn’t Realize was Bad: Netflix to Discontinue its DVD Service

Netflix announced today that it will discontinue its DVD subscription rental service, the product that launched its business more than two decades ago.

As the company noted, the DVD business continues to shrink as streaming takes over the entertainment universe, but this is nevertheless a blow to movie lovers.

Netflix, after all, killed off Blockbuster and local video rental businesses with a promise to provide any film available anywhere. Suddenly, the world of cinema was available with a click. Netflix remains the best source for movies, even if it is no longer the most convenient.

Surely this is no longer needed! you reply. You can stream anything that you want, at any time!

Well, no. You cannot. Plenty of great movies and rarities are available only on DVD, or available only through one particular subscription streaming service but not as a one-off rental.

If, for example, you want to watch Nagisa Oshima’s early classic, Boy, you might rent it on DVD or subscribe to the Criterion Channel. But now, with the death of Netflix’s DVD rental program, unless you want to subscribe to every streaming service, you’re not going to be able to watch every movie.

Raoul Walsh made history with The Big Trail, a widescreen film shot in 1929 about early American settlers, but the widescreen version of the film is available only on DVD. If you stream it, you’ll miss what made it great. Michael Cimino’s director’s cut of The Sicilian is proclaimed as a masterpiece, unlike the half-baked theatrical version, but it is available only on DVD.

Screen Crush recently highlighted fifteen great films that you can get from Netflix, but that aren’t streaming anywhere.

And even classics from television’s Golden Age are absent from streaming channels. The first season of Mannix streams, but if you want to see the other seven seasons without splurging hundreds of dollars on a box set, you need Netflix.

Oh well.


Content: Oblivioni. Image: Kalyee Srithnam.

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