The decline & fall of home entertainment

Netflix discs are slowing dying

Exclusive to MeierMovies, June 23, 2022

I remember a time, about a decade ago, when Netflix discs were king. I could watch a DVD or Blu-ray on a Monday night and drop it in the mail on Tuesday morning. Then the Netflix shipping facility in my hometown of Orlando would receive it on Wednesday morning, process it immediately and ship me another disc that same day. I would receive it on Thursday, which represented a lightning-fast, two-day turnaround. That means that, with the two-disc plan, I almost always had a disc at home ready to watch.

But then the streaming revolution came. People, in their rush to embrace the latest thing, forgot the superiority of the Netflix discs library, which, at its height, contained more than 100,000 titles. It was heaven for cinephiles and a boon to film critics like myself, who often have to research older films before reviewing new ones.

The irony is that streaming (Netflix and other companies) can exist quite successfully alongside Netflix discs and the few remaining brick-and-mortar rental stores. Indeed, I’ve had both the Netflix streaming and disc plans for years. (Netflix streaming, though, even now still contains only about one-tenth of the titles offered by Netflix discs, further proving the value of the discs plan.)

But the end of Netflix discs is coming. You can feel it. The first nail in the coffin, at least for Florida customers, was recently hammered when the Orlando discs facility closed. This means my discs are now shipped to and from Duluth, Georgia. That two-day turnaround has now grown to four days minimum and often balloons to six thanks to increasingly poor service by USPS.

Regrettably, the Netflix discs library itself, once the treasure of American home entertainment, is shrinking. Titles in my queue are often bumped down into the “saved” category or disappear entirely. For a better discussion of this decline, see Jim Vorel’s excellent article in Paste Magazine. In it, Vorel calls the Netflix discs library a “lost treasure we’ll never seen again.” He’s right. And the decline he describes has only continued since he wrote his article in March 2021.

It didn’t have to be this way. The industry didn’t have to splinter into dozens of streaming services offering a fraction of what Netflix discs once offered. (And with theatrical-release windows either shrinking or disappearing entirely, multiple streaming accounts are increasingly becoming the only option for consumers.) Like countless other treasures from the past, Netflix discs is experiencing its inevitable decline and fall – all because we the people made or were forced into the wrong choices and Netflix either wasn’t willing or wasn’t able to preserve the status quo. In the meantime, you’ll find me sitting on my front porch, disc-less, yelling “get off my lawn.”

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