Film Fans Wave Goodbye to Another Rental Service

As rates of digitalisation continue to soar, cinephiles have once again been forced to bid farewell to a fond old friend. Amazon-owned postal DVD renting service ‘LoveFilm’ ceased to trade on the 31st October, a popular day known for its celebration of Halloween and consequent heavy focus on films from the genre of horror. In a bid to end on good terms, Amazon have allowed customers currently holding movies to keep the discs in their possession. The move to close LoveFilm comes as a result of rapid technological changes and advancements- particularly in the Western world, with online streaming services the new preferred method of watching films and television shows.

Ever since the late 2000’s, we have experienced a public switch towards easier, faster methods of watching and downloading the films we want to see. In the midst of what some may describe as a ‘technological revolution’, renting hard copies of the latest releases has simply gone out of style. The desire for converging multiple delivery systems into one has never been easier with the ability to disregard hard copies and opt for a digital, on-demand alternative. Having heavily surpassed 100 million subscribers in the second quarter of 2017, global streaming company ‘Netflix’ are at the forefront of this change- with some US customers still making use of their postal DVD delivery. This fierce competition has never proven beatable by LoveFilm, their own membership only having ever reached as high as 2 million users. As Amazon also boast their well-known ‘Prime’ viewing and streaming feature- they simply have no use to retain LoveFilm.

Whilst this news may have come as a shock or disappointment for some, many of us will recall a similar situation having stirred the film-loving community. The demise of VHS video tapes and recently of DVDs resulted in the closure of family favourite Blockbuster- a video rental chain which officially withdrew trade in 2013 after unsuccessful attempts to compete with the usual giants of the new digital age. With figures from market researchers Kantar Worldpanel showing that in 2013, 10.6% of British individuals had rented a DVD, the shocking change over a short period of four years is that by 2017, this percentage has fallen to 2.3%.


Acknowledging the practical benefits of online renting outweighing the nostalgic value of the in-store experience, there is seemingly little hope to be had. With such a great lack of prosperity for what was once a booming industry, could anything truly be done to revive the world of movie renting?


Catherine Fairbairn


[Image: Index Ventures]