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When I was your age we had to wait for our Netflix movies in the mail!

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Netflix Dvd Streaming

Netflix, the world’s largest streaming service with more than 200 million subscribers, celebrated its 25th anniversary at the end of August and treated us to a blast from the past with a reminder that it got its start as a DVD-by-mail rental service. In fact, it wasn’t until 2007 that the company introduced its streaming video platform as an add-on for DVD subscribers. But many of Netflix’s current subscribers weren’t even alive when Netflix mailed out its first DVDs. So we wanted to know just how much Netflix subscribers from different generations know or remember about the early years of the platform that today brings us blockbuster movies like Red Notice and Don’t Look Up, alongside hit shows like Bridgerton and Stranger Things.

Netflix Dvd Does Generation Z Know

“When I was your age our Netflix movies came in the mail,” I erroneously agonize to my 24-year-old colleague who never endured the hardships that I, a grizzled 33-year-old veteran of multiple generations of physical media, persevered through. Sure, I got DVDs in the mail, but Netflix streaming launched when I was just 18. When questioned if she knew what service Netflix originally offered she answered hesitantly, “Something to do with those CD things.” Even as an elder of Gen-Z, born in 1998, she never knew the pleasure of the Netflix of yore, with its movie queues and red envelopes, whose presence in the mailbox always delivered a bit of a thrill, even though they were expected to be in the day’s mail. 

But my colleague isn’t alone. A make-you-feel-old 83.5% of Gen-Z Netflix subscribers surveyed either didn’t know the company’s original business model or answered incorrectly when asked. Compare that to “just” 41.2% of millennials who didn’t have the correct answer. When we asked subscribers representing Gen-X and the Baby Boomers the same question, just 16.3% and 16.1% answered incorrectly. We’ll just assume the incorrect answers from those generations came from Blockbuster die-hards who never made the switch to Netflix DVDs.

Netflix Dvd Billboard

Despite generating the bulk of its revenue from streaming memberships, Netflix reports taking in $114 million from DVD-by-mail subscribers in the first half of 2022. Though actual DVD subscriber numbers are no longer reported, some quick math tells us that based on DVD plan prices, which range from $9.99 to $19.99 per month, there are somewhere between 950,000 and 1.9 million people still receiving Netflix DVDs in the mail. 

Methodology

On September 1, 2022, we asked 2,000 current Netflix subscribers if they could tell us what service the company offered when it launched in 1997. The pool of respondents was made up of 500 people from each of the following generations: Generation Z (born 1997-2012), Millennials (born 1981-1996), Generation X (born 1965-1980), and Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964). 

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