Last week brought the news of Netflix ending its DVD rental-by-mail operation, which was the company’s first way into millions of American households. Although Netflix has shifted its focus to streaming in a big way over the past decade, it still offered disc delivery for movie and TV fans looking for a broader selection, better video quality, or those without a reliable internet connection. Netflix will continue to operate through the end of September, but then that’s it.

Following the latest apparent nail in the DVD’s coffin, CivicScience polled Americans on their home video habits. (For the sake of brevity, consider “DVD” a shorthand to mean any kind of physical home video release – DVD, Blu-ray, or 4K disc.) While a majority of U.S. adults currently own DVDs (55%), just 18% currently own them and plan to buy more. Despite their fading footprint, 8% of U.S. adults don’t currently own any DVDs but plan to buy some in the future. 

Although Gen Z adults are the least likely to currently own DVDs (47%), they’re the most likely to express any intent in buying some (34%), including those who do not own any but plan to buy some (14%). Adults aged 35-54 are both the most likely to currently own DVDs (63%) and the most likely to expand their existing collection (22%). 

As big-box retailers dedicate less and less shelf space to DVDs, it’s worth exploring the differing priorities among shoppers of some formerly top movie sellers. Among all retailers polled, 26-28% of favorables claim they still plan to buy DVDs. Barnes & Noble and Walmart’s favorables are most likely to buy at 28% each. (But Barnes & Noble favorables outpace those of all other retailers polled for intent to grow an existing DVD collection at 23%.)

But it’s not impossible to imagine a DVD comeback somewhere down the road, much like how vinyl records were largely out of circulation before surging back into the mainstream. According to CivicScience data, 30% of U.S. adults intend to use Redbox movie rental kiosks in the future – and an even higher percentage would consider going to a brick-and-mortar video store in their area. Excluding those who already have a video store in their area (6%), 37% of U.S. adults are at least ‘somewhat likely’ to patronize a store like Blockbuster if it opened in their area (with 14% claiming to be ‘very likely’).

Among U.S. adults who claim nostalgia influences the products they purchase ‘a lot,’ the figures jump dramatically, with 37% claiming they’d be ‘very likely’ to patronize a video store and a majority stating they’re at least ‘somewhat likely’ (57%).

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