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The end of an era: Netflix ends its DVD delivery service after 25 years

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

First Blockbuster, now Netflix - well, not all of it.

SCOTT DETROW, HOST:

After 25 years, the company is ending its DVD by delivery service. Yes, it does still exist and, yes, people still do use it.

JOHN WALLACE: My kids love to make fun of me because I like so many black-and-white films. And so just the access to classic films and obscure films, foreign films, that sort of thing was great.

CHANG: That's John Wallace in Nashville, Tenn. He has the regular Netflix streaming service, but he and his family have used the DVD delivery system for about 18 years. The company says that it's ending the service because it's shrinking and providing DVDs by mail will become, quote, "increasingly difficult."

DETROW: But the end of the red envelopes' era is a sad one for loyal customers like Wallace. He says his family would spend more time watching movies and less time picking movies.

WALLACE: Today, our family will spend an hour, sometimes maybe even more, discussing, searching, looking, arguing over what it is we're going to watch. So, you know, the great thing about Netflix, you had two, three DVDs, whatever it was, those were your choices. And generally, you always enjoyed it, typically. Still miss that to this day.

JIM HENON: I'm a little sad to see the DVD subscription part of Netflix ending, much of the same way I was a little sad to see Blockbuster closing shops.

CHANG: That's Jim Henon in Sterling, Va. Knowing this date was drawing near, he cancelled his Netflix DVDs late last year. A ritual for him was timing his movie orders.

HENON: I would take into account how long it took the mail service to send it back and for them to get it and send me the next one. So I had to make sure it was in the mail by Monday or Tuesday so I could get the next one by Friday or Saturday, at the latest.

DETROW: And like Wallace, the selection of classic movies was a pull for Henon, especially for family movie nights.

HENON: When my kids were young - they pretty much grew up in the 2000s - so a lot of the Pixar movies that came out then, those are my favorites. We'd watch those three or four or five times before we'd send them back. And invariably, a couple of months later they'd want to see them again. And we'd just put it back at the top of the list and get it back and watch it again for three or four more times.

CHANG: And speaking of classics, Netflix says the first DVD they sent out was "Beetlejuice" in 1998.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "BEETLEJUICE")

WINONA RYDER: (As Lydia) Beetlejuice. Beetlejuice. Beetlejuice.

MICHAEL KEATON: (As Betelgeuse) It's showtime.

CHANG: And the most popular title - Sandra Bullock's "The Blind Side."

DETROW: The very last Netflix red envelope will be mailed in September. No word yet on what movie it'll be.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE WEEKND SONG, "BLINDING LIGHTS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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