Tons of People Still Rent Netflix DVDs, Apparently

The company has mailed its 5 billionth DVD, and we have one question: who is actually ordering DVDs from Netflix?
August 28, 2019, 3:49pm
an iphone with the netflix logo on top of a stack of red netflix dvd mailers
Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

These days, among plenty of people online, Netflix's glory days of DVD mailing are talked about in the same storied way one might mention Dunkaroos or Hit Clips or calling friends on a landline: a relic of the past and a marker of the "officially old."

And yet, Netflix announced earlier this week that it had hit a huge milestone. The company mailed its 5 billionth DVD, an honor that went to this year's Elton John biopic Rocketman, according to Entertainment Weekly. In an era when plenty of people with Macbooks and Chromebooks don't even have drives for playing DVDs, that's a good reminder that Netflix's DVD mailing service even still exists.

But the DVD service might not be as dead as one might have thought. According to a follow-up tweet, Netflix's DVD side, now known as "DVD.com: A Netflix Company," continues to ship over a million DVDs every week. Those disc shipments accounted for $46 million in profit in the second quarter of this year, per Variety. While all of that is truly notable, we have one lingering, burning question: Who the hell is still ordering DVDs on Netflix?

Seemingly, that's old Millennials and young Gen Xers. Back in 2008, 90 percent of American households had DVD players in 2008, according to Media Play News. By 2018, however, that had dropped to between 58 percent and 69 percent depending on the age group, per numbers from Statista, with people in 30-49-year-old age bracket leading in DVD ownership. Take that, everyone who's accused Millennials of killing every industry.

There are reasons why people might opt for DVD instead of streaming. Particularly, that new releases like Rocketman are sometimes made available on DVD before they're available on streaming. With streaming services jockeying over licensing rights, a movie might never even end up on one's streaming platform of choice.

Who knows? As every network ramps up attempts to stream its own content, forcing viewers into an endless mess of streaming subscriptions, maybe people will see the hidden value in actual, physical movies—and maybe (gasp!) even owning a DVD player once again.