Netflix to Stop Selling Used DVDs

What might come as a surprise for many people is not that Netflix will cease selling used DVDs, but that Netflix was actually selling used DVDs in the first place. Selling "previously viewed DVDs" (as Netflix calls them--sort of like how used car salesmen sell "previously-owned vehicles"), has been part of the services that Netflix has offered for sometime, with some discs selling for as little as $5.99. But after November 30, Netflix will no longer offer this service, so that it can focus on its "core business" of "delivering great movie rentals to you on DVD by mail and instantly to the computer and TV" as the company recently reported on its blog.

Netflix has been making quite a few changes to the services it offers lately. Most recently, Netflix's Watch Instantly streaming feature--which has been a staple for Netflix customers with Windows PCs since January 2007--is finally making the transition to the Mac platform. Not only will all Intel-based-Mac-owning Netflix customers be able to avail themselves of Watch Instantly streaming by the end of this year, but those willing to put up with a potentially buggy beta-version of Watch Instantly can start using it now by opting in here. Other recent Netflix changes include expanding the Watch Instantly content selections by partnering with CBS Television Network, Disney-ABC Television Group, and Starz Entertainment.

Unlike Netflix's decision this last June to cease its Netflix Profiles feature, the decision to stop selling used DVDs actually makes sense from a business perspective. There was no true apparent resource-allocation benefit from ceasing the Netflix Profiles feature, but selling and shipping used DVDs is an obvious labor-intensive endeavor that doesn't exactly fit into Netflix's core business. Curiously, Netflix received so much negative feedback from its decision to eliminate the Netflix Profiles feature, that it eventually bowed to the pressure and chose to keep the Netflix Profiles feature after all. As expected, the overwhelming majority of comments are also negative about the blog entry to stop selling used DVDs. Some even speculated that this is just the first step towards Netflix eventually moving away from DVDs entirely. That sentiment prompted an update to the original blog entry:

"NOTE: I'd like to clarify that although we will stop selling our previously viewed DVDs on the website after November 30th, this is in no way an indicator of moving away from DVDs. On the contrary, we believe that DVDs will continue to be important for the next five to ten years at least, and are continually adding new DVD and Blu-ray discs to our catalog."

As to what Netflix will do with its used DVDs after November 30, the Silicon Alley Insider reports that a Netflix rep told them, "We sell previously viewed DVDs to wholesalers who then resell them." The Silicon Alley story stemmed from the fact that they spied a vendor selling Netflix DVDs on the street in New York City. So if you want to buy used Netflix DVDs after November 30, you might need to start looking form them at some less traditional venues.
Tags:  DVD, Netflix, DVDs, DS, etf, sed