When Netflix started in the late 1990s, its business model was sending physical DVDs to people to rent. Times have changed, and the streaming company is shutting down its subscription DVD service next month after 25 years. The last discs will be mailed on Sept. 29, but Netflix is going out with a DVD party by sending up to 10 discs to customers—but only if they opt-in to the program.
How to get ten DVDs from Netflix
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Receiving your ten Netflix DVDs is straight forward, but you have to have a subscription to Netflix DVD plan. Luckily, even though the service is shutting down soon, they’re still taking new members until Aug. 28.
- Navigate to Netflix DVD’s main page. If you don’t have a membership, sign-up.
- Login to your Netflix DVD account.
- Make sure your queue contains at least 10 DVDs.
- Existing members have already received an email with the link to Netflix’s Finale site, but if you’ve just signed up, login and navigate to dvd.netflix.com/finalesurprise
- Congratulations, you’ve opted in! You won’t necessarily get all of the 10 latest discs in your queue, but you might. Or you you might get some of them. It’s a crap-shoot.
Do you get to keep the DVDs Netflix sends?
Sadly, Netflix is not giving away its massive trove of DVDs. You’ll still be expected to return the 10 discs they send you. The company says it will “continue to accept returns until October 27th, 2023.”
What happens if you don’t return DVDs to Netflix?
While its DVD operation is shutting down, Netflix itself will still be around, so this won’t be a situation like Blockbuster going belly up letting people keep the VHS tapes they rented. If you don’t return discs to Netflix, the company will charge your credit card for their value.
That’s the idea, anyway. You never know how it will work in practice. Are they really going to bother chasing down outstanding discs? Probably, but you never know.
Why would anyone even want DVDs from Netflix?
Streaming is immediate and easy, and in most other ways better than physical media, but there are some advantages to Netflix’s DVD service, particularly when it comes to selection, price, and nostalgia.
Unlike it’s paltry selection on streaming, you can find almost anything on Netflix’s disc-rental service. It will rent you films that are only available as digital rentals, or that are streaming exclusively on another service. It’s cheaper too, if you do it right. Digital rentals can cost up to $6 each, and Netflix’s cheapest plan is $9 a month, so as long as you watch at least two DVDs a month, you’re saving money.
DVDs are better than streaming. In some ways.
The intangible benefit of Netflix DVD service is nostalgia. Back in the 90s, Netflix’s “we’ll send movies to your house” business plan was exciting and revolutionary. Anyone who signed up immediately understood how it would drive video stores out of business, and that was before they started streaming.
Netflix made it easy and convenient to be a cinefile.Back then, it could be hard to even find the movies you wanted, particularly if your tastes were refined or lowbrow. Both art movies and trash cinema were usually too obscure for the shelves of your local Hollywood Video, but you could get both Fellini’s Satyricon and Cannibal Ferox from Netflix. You still can, at least for another month.
It was the golden age of commentary tracks and extra features too. Those available-only-on-DVD deleted scenes, alternate takes, behind-the-scenes documentaries, and other goodies were the beginning of our current, overly-media-saturated epoch. It took a few years to learn that those scenes were deleted for a reason and that commentary tracks are as likely to detract from a movie as add to it, but at the beginning, those things were extremely cool in a way that’s hard to understand if you’re used to a quick web search burying you in information about any movie or TV show you like.
Anyway, you still have a few weeks to sign up for NetFlix’s DVD service to remember the old days, or just to be around to hear the death knell of a once-ubiquitous cultural force that is quickly being forgotten.