Victorian DVD and Blu-ray rental service Lovefilm by Post is to be shut down forever on 31st October 2017.
Lovefilm emailed customers – me (!) – yesterday, breaking the news.
“We have very much enjoyed delivering the Lovefilm by Post to you,” the statement ominously began. “However, over the last few year’s we’ve seen a decreasing demand for DVD and Blu-ray rental as customers increasingly move to streaming. Due to this, we will be closing the Lovefilm by Post service on 31st October 2017.”
The last time you’ll be billed for your current Lovefilm service is 30th September, but you can continue renting until 31st October. Lovefilm customers are offered a £15 discount on an Amazon Fire TV Stick (making it £25) to soften the blow.
That Lovefilm by Post is closing is a shock to no one – that it still exists is more of a surprise. Rental movies – and even Lovefilm rental video games, up until 2013 – were products of a bygone noughties era. As streaming technology – and broadband connections – got more and more capable, most people never looked back, and Netflix ballooned.
Lovefilm did offer a streaming service for a long time of course, serving as Netflix’s competition in the UK throughout the PS3 and Xbox 360 lifecycle, but it would be folded into Amazon Instant Video by owner Amazon further down the line.
Nevertheless, Lovefilm by Post remained a great place to get hold of films otherwise not offered on streaming services. I reactivated my membership earlier this year in order to watch the Studio Ghibli films on Blu-ray with my son, and I managed to catch up on otherwise charged-for TV shows such as Game of Thrones on Blu-ray (avoiding NowTV’s frustratingly neutered image/audio quality on PS4) and BBC’s Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrel.
I also liked renting newer films from Lovefilm to watch with my children – the sort of films other streaming services charged a fiver for anyway. There was a delay in Lovefilm offering them but they arrived in the end (come on, Lego Batman, you can do it). Choosing films this way also avoided the excruciating on-demand carousel of choice and resulting bickering between a 13-year-old and seven-year-old about what to watch.
And that’s just me. I talked to people about the Lovefilm cancellation on Twitter yesterday who will now struggle to find the world cinema films they used the service for; or the people who have intermittent internet connections; or the people who are perhaps a bit older and more comfortable renting by post.
In short: Lovefilm, I will miss you, and I’m sorry I called you Victorian.