Over the last 25 years, Netflix shipped more than 5 billion DVDs to millions of subscribers. The disc-by-mail service, which is shutting down this Friday, owed its success to lots of behind-the-scenes innovation.
There was a point in the late 2000s when it seemed like every mailbox was stuffed with red envelopes. Netflix shipped a billion DVDs by mail between 2007 and 2009 alone, with its loyal fans overwhelming the US Postal Service by returning 1.6 million discs every single day. Almost every film ever made, available via next-day delivery, with no late fees: that formula didn’t just drive Blockbuster into bankruptcy but, for a moment in time, completely redefined how movies were watched.