Via Paste Magazine (and Michael Tsai) note that Paste Magazine, I don’t like as a publication because one of their authors or perhaps it’s just their M.O., used to spam various sub-reddits every time a new post came out and that sort of spam always rubs me the wrong way:

The shrinking of the physical Netflix DVD library has been a simple enough process to observe for customers who are paying attention to their queue of upcoming deliveries. As the years have gone by, I’ve watched my own queue be decimated by this process, with titles first moving from “queue” to “saved” (essentially a request that Netflix obtain a DVD they no longer have), to then disappearing from the service entirely.

I’ve experienced this myself and have kept a DVD.Netflix account for a while because Netflix’s streaming catalogue is the antithesis of everything movie lovers..well love. Netflix Streaming is an interactive way to see just how cutthroat and anti-creativity the film industry is. They have to make money but the fact that there’s a website devoted to things coming to, and more importantly, leaving Netflix this week goes to show how anti-user Netflix is and how, like everyone else just have to play by movie studio rules which is pay for a license, don’t overpay and then take the movie down when the rights expire and beg the movie studio to lend it back to you. 

The author at Paste Magazine is correct. DVD.netflix followed the old movie rental model as explained so well in the film, “The Last Blockbuster” in that model, the Supreme Court actually weighed in that movie rental stores were within their rights to purchase movies from anywhere (a Wal*Mart was shown in the documentary where the Blockbuster manager buys her titles) and rent them out to ‘members’ of the club. This is fully within the rights of the boxed DVD owner and not in violation of copyright law. Netflix could go out and purchase 5 copies of a very limited indie film that almost no one will see if they didn’t attend a tiny film festival in Austin 8 years ago and rent that out to members. It’s what made Netflix great because, while Blockbuster was limited by physical square footage of their stores and would only display titles people actually rented, Netflix could stuff those 5 indie film DVDs in a sleeve at one of their warehouses and just wait for someone to rent them costing basically nothing to store those. 

…and when the streaming wars heated up and Netflix and its competitors began fighting for the hot new movies people rented by the millions (Oscar Nominees, Brad Pitt films), streaming usually wouldn’t have those films but dvd.netflix does. 

Netflix as a streaming business rightfully invested in their own content as a response to the movie studios and, consumers stick with Netflix streaming because there’s value in the Netflix catalogue and we’ve all learned that if you want to watch the academy award best picture winner, you can just rent it from iTunes or another provider but DVD.netflix sort of was left alone by both consumers, netflix and the movie studios allowed to play in that old model pioneered by the physical stores.

Then about 6 years ago, it started going down hill and I suffered from the same experience as the author. My queue magically got smaller. Netflix is weening us off as the bean counters every month look at “dvd.netflix” and wonder “Why are we spending a few million a month on postage?!?!?

The truth is, there are Americans who still need a movie store. We have a few of these up where I live and the only way they see the Best Picture winner is to rent it from a movie store or pay $60 to load up all of the kids and visit a movie theatre. I’d hate to be the founder who has to pitch Kleiner Perkins on my “like DVD.Netflix but for this decade” startup idea but someone has to fill this gap Netflix is leaving behind and no VC in their right mind would fund it.

There is no where on the Internet or in physical locations that is replacing Blockbuster or dvd.netflix.com. It doesn’t exist. The local movie rental place in Colebrook New Hampshire has 250 titles, mostly blockbusters not Indies and iTunes at $2.99-$4.99 a rental plus a requirement people have bandwidth is not going to work for people. We need a place that can charge $8.99 a month for all you can eat and get DVDs to your house for those who can’t stream. 

I don’t know what the answer is because, like there’s no Uber in my town or delivery or even 3G internet, there’s also no movie rental place and with DVD.Netflix.com languishing and bleeding out slowly, we film buffs have three choices

1. Purchase every movie we want to see on Amazon

2. Rent every movie for $3-5 on iTunes

3. Steal the movies off Bittorrent and if we like it, then purchase it and add to our collection

If you’re a real movie buff like me, the first two options get VERY expensive. I just purchased a whole Kurosawa collection on iTunes for $120, spent another $100 on two Clint Eastwood packs and Lord of the Rings in 4K and we rented 6 movies last month. Who has $500 a month for movie budgets? Most Americans do not and those are the very same Americans who don’t have access to reliable high speed internet, 4G/5G cell connections OR a local movie store to rent films. 

…and don’t get me started on streaming compression. We still use DVD.Netflix.com to rent movies with a real focus on vast open worlds and low-lit intimate scenes because the physical disk looks exponentially better than anything from any streaming company.