COLLEGE PARK, Maryland — Netflix is the undisputed king of streaming. Globally, 93.8 million people subscribe to the streaming service — nearly 50 percent more than their closest competitor Amazon Prime, with more than 66 million subscribers, according to Recode.
Netflix got its start by toppling DVD Goliath Blockbuster Video, delivering DVDs to customers homes and eliminating late fees. And though the antiquated disc-by-mail service is dwindling, more than 4 million subscribers still use it. Amy Snurr, of Westminster, Maryland, is one of those subscribers.
“We don’t do Netflix DVDs as much as we used to with Redbox around but we still enjoy it,” Snurr wrote in an email. She has been a subscriber since 2009, but only added the streaming service last year.
Willie Carr had a similar experience with the streaming service.
“Streaming is actually what I do most, I haven’t used the disc service in actually quite a while; probably a couple years,” the Waldorf, Maryland resident said.
Carr has been a member for about seven years, but will probably end the DVD service soon, he said.
“Almost anything you want to watch nowadays is available via [streaming],” he said. “The last thing that I used it for was The Big Bang Theory.”
Netflix DVD subscribers are dwindling, but Netflix still manages to make 50 cents in profit for every dollar they put into the service. Despite this, their net profit has nearly been cut in half since 2011.
Amanda Lotz, a media scholar and professor at the University of Michigan, attributes the continued success of Netflix DVDs to film enthusiasts and the established infrastructure the company has built.
“I can only guess, but the infrastructure is built, and as subscribers have decreased they’ve likely decreased the number of DVDs purchased so that their costs have decreased along with revenue,” Lotz wrote in an email. “It is worth maintaining as long as it is profitable, even if it isn’t the company’s core business anymore.”
Since Netflix split into two separate services in 2011, streaming has been their main focus. Global streaming subscribers have increased an average of 13.48 million each year.
Lotz credits Netflix’s international success partially to the first-mover advantage. Because Netflix was one of the first to heavily invest in streaming, they were able to capitalize on an untapped market.
Moreover, Netflix was launched in the U.S., a large and lucrative market, Lotz said. This gives Netflix an edge over companies that have launched in smaller countries with less buying power.
Current trends for Netflix will likely continue — DVD subscribers will fall, streaming subscribers will rise, and the company will expand. Maybe one day Netflix DVD subscribers will finally hit zero, but for the time being, they’re still holding on, 4 million strong.