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Overseas Exchange Stores to Phase Out DVD Rentals

Army and Air Force Exchange Service stores in Japan have posted notices informing customers that DVD rentals will end Aug. 31, 2016. (Photo by Seth Robson/Stars and Stripes)
Army and Air Force Exchange Service stores in Japan have posted notices informing customers that DVD rentals will end Aug. 31, 2016. (Photo by Seth Robson/Stars and Stripes)

The growing popularity of online streaming video services such as Netflix and Hulu is sounding the death knell for DVD rentals at AAFES outlets overseas.

Army and Air Force Exchange Service stores in Japan have posted notices informing customers that DVD rentals will end Aug. 31 due to "circumstances beyond our control."

Softland, the company that had supplied the overseas stores with DVDs, has gone out of business, AAFES spokesman Chris Ward said in an email.

"Since customers have largely migrated to on-demand options or streaming options vs renting, the Exchange will no longer offer rentals," he said.

In the U.S., more than 100 military installations offer Redbox vending machines for DVD rentals, Ward said. Customers use a touchscreen to select a movie and later return it to the machine.

However, options are more limited overseas, where the DVDs that can be rented off base are often in the language of the host country.

There are also restrictions on off-base streaming services that can affect personnel stationed overseas. Netflix, for example, announced in January it would increase efforts to prevent customers from circumventing geographic restrictions using a VPN or similar masking technologies.

Under the Radar: The Real Deal With Overseas Streaming Rules

Johna Otis, 30, of Gulfport, Miss., a nurse for the 374th Medical Group at Yokota Air Base, said she'd miss renting DVDs from AAFES.

"We rent about twice a month," she said. "My husband likes to watch new releases."

Otis said her family watches Netflix and Hulu but that the services don't have the newer films available from AAFES.

--Seth Robson can be reached at robson.seth@stripes.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SethRobson1.

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