Netflix DVDs, Scorsese and Me

by The Technical Blogs

The Year TV Surpassed Any Film Genre

That Year’s Most Shipped TV Rental

In the last few years, the relative popularity on DVD Netflix of expensive-to-stream TV shows increased substantially. The most rented shows at the beginning of the 2010s were the Showtime serial-killer drama “Dexter” and the HBO vampire drama “True Blood,” though HBO’s fantasy heavyweight “Game of Thrones” dominated most of the decade after its arrival on DVD in 2012.

When we asked Times readers to tell us about their days as Netflix DVD subscribers, I learned that those discs were lifelines for people in all kinds of situations — just as they were for me during the pandemic.

DVD subscriber since 2006, when I moved to a rural area from a large city and missed the art houses I patronized. I was bowled over by the special collections like ballets, foreign films and BBC stuff. — Joan, Salem, S.C.

My husband and I had a DVD subscription to Netflix while we were stationed in Germany from 2004-7. They would ship the discs through the USPS to our military postal boxes. — Nina Grant, Denver

If you live in hurricane country as I do, the insurance of having a few DVD movies at hand for when the cable service goes out is peace of mind, just like the whole-house generator that will power the TV and DVD player. — Fern Bugg, Wilmington, N.C.

In the early years, I spent about half of each year in Antarctica. This started before streaming services, and once they came along, we wouldn’t have been able to stream movies anyway, due to bandwidth issues. It took a long time for each new DVD to arrive, but it was better than rewatching all the old VHS tapes we had on station. — Andy Young, Talkeetna, Alaska

Last month, I went to see Scorsese’s new movie, “Killers of the Flower Moon,” at an indie theater. The final disc of my marathon, the somber “Silence,” had long since been returned, yet I still had Netflix on my mind. The energy in the room felt like a throwback to another time: Here was a big-budget drama from a distinguished director playing to a sold-out audience at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. But the epic was produced by Apple and bound to be viewed by many audiences through that company’s streaming service, which is banking on the movie to attract new subscribers. The film was debuting in a moviegoing culture transformed by streaming and, by extension, Netflix.

In that way, watching “Killers of the Flower Moon” in a theater felt a little like going to an ailing mom-and-pop video store when Netflix’s DVDs-by-mail business was ascendant: It was an act undertaken because you loved the experience, and because you weren’t sure how long it would be available.

Sitting in the theater, a few weeks after Netflix’s DVD service had formally ended, alongside other people who had trudged in the rain to see a Scorsese movie on opening night, our red envelope days felt both far away and very close.

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