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Prediction: As shows continue to leave Netflix, some people will return to DVDs

Netflix DVDs

Next year is going to be pretty interesting for Netflix subscribers, to put it mildly. According to analytics firm Jumpshot, more than half of the streaming giant’s 50 most-popular shows are licensed from companies like NBCUniversal and WarnerMedia that are planning to start streaming services of their own.

That’s potentially bad news for Netflix users who are also fans of its top licensed shows like The Office and Grey’s Anatomy. Because since everyone from new streaming upstarts to industry stalwarts like Disney are planning to launch Netflix rivals in 2019, that means they might be inclined to yank their popular titles from Netflix. And if they don’t, they’ll no doubt charge Netflix a pretty penny to keep them there.

Jumpshot also has this fascinating data point: The top 50 Netflix shows account for 42 percent of all Netflix views.

This is certainly a perennial story related to Netflix — The shows it licenses aren’t guaranteed to stay there forever. When it comes to some of the most-loved titles, like The Office, there are countless social media posts from users threatening to desert Netflix en masse if the mockumentary series ever leaves the streamer. In response to all this, of course, Netflix is investing heavily in programming of its own, programming that it can keep forever as a counterweight of sorts to its licensed content that comes and goes.

You know what else will still be around, though, even after Netflix’s rivals start pulling their titles as they’re likely to do next year when the streaming landscape gets even more fractured? Your old DVDs, that’s what.

To be sure, we’re not predicting there’s going to be some kind of massive surge in DVD-buying or a wholesale resurgence of the format in response to these streaming moves. But it’s a good bet that many people are going to at a minimum dust off that old box set of, say, Friends or The Office that they never got rid of. Another reason why is because with so many companies launching streaming services to rival Netflix, the average person is only going to want or be able to subscribe to a certain amount of these new services.

That’s why, if a particular show falls through the cracks and ends up with one of the services you don’t pay for — a DVD or DVD box set could serve as a kind of stopgap.

In case you haven’t bought any in a while, don’t forget that you also get extra benefits and goodies when you do. Game of Thrones fans, for example, will no doubt be excited to own the DVD and Blu-ray box sets HBO is going to release next year after the final season airs, since it will include extras like a cast reunion interview.

“I never have to worry about losing access to my go-to TV favorites — Buffy, The Office, Veronica Mars, and most seasons of Friends — because I have them on DVD,” wrote Ashley Rodriguez recently for Quartz. “My disc copies will be there for me for as long as I have a DVD player. My well-worn copies of Buffy sit proudly on my bookshelf, steps from my couch. Yes, changing the disc every few episodes is mildly annoying. The interface on the 2000s-era box sets is archaic, and requires navigating through a virtual graveyard and at least three menus of options before I can press play on an episode. But it’s a small price to pay to watch my favorite shows whenever I want.”

Andy Meek profile photo

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming. Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.