April 28, 2023

Lamenting the Loss of the Red Envelopes

I was very upset by the recent announcement that Netflix was terminating its DVD delivery service this fall. I first joined Netflix when all content was delivered by the Postal Service. I have continued to receive DVD and Blu-ray disks in the mail, though I use Netflix’s streaming service as well. The good news is that I will be paying Netflix less, but much is being lost.

Why do I continue to receive physical disks? No, I am not a Luddite; I enjoy the content I can receive via streaming. There are two losses I will experience when the red envelopes cease to arrive in my mailbox, however. The most important loss is access to films not available via streaming. Secondarily, I will lose access to the extra content that is frequently found on DVD or Blu-ray disks.

My interest in watching movies is atypical of Netflix users generally, but may not be atypical of DVD.com subscribers. I do not search available movies for “somethng to watch.” In a sense, I am not looking for “entertainment.” Instead, I am seeking insight into movie history, seeking classics every movie buff should see, and exploring the films of particular actors or directors. Because of my somewhat academic interest in cinema, I will even watch moves that I don’t expect to like. On physical disks, I can see older movies and movies lacking universal appeal. And, of course, I can even watch well-liked movies that are simply not available on Netflix for whatever reason.

Of course, the bonus of getting those disks in the mail is the extras usually found on DVDs and Blu-ray disks: commentaries, deleted scenes, “making-of” documentaries, biographical information, and the like. Such extras help put a film into a larger context and provide insight into the movie-making process. Seldom do I return a disk without watching all the extra on that disk.

In principle, there is no reason that movies available only through the mail could not be streamed. And why couldn’t those extras be streamed as well?

Will the demise of DVD.com result in movies now only available by mail becoming available to stream? I can hope, though I don’t expect it. I wonder what will happen to the large inventory of physical disks held by Netflix.

While there is still time, I am trying to see all the DVD.com movies I can before the service ends.


Netflix (DVD) envelope
One of the famous red envelopes

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