NetFlix’s House of Cards Exclusive: Will It Be the Show Heard Round the World?

By  |  Friday, March 18, 2011 at 11:39 am

Wow. Netflix’s Watch Instantly service will the only place to see a new 26-episode version of House of Cards, based on the British show. It stars Kevin Spacey and is executive-produced by David Fincher, and generally sounds like something that you’d expect to show up on HBO or some other cable channel.

If this works–and even if it doesn’t–it could be one of the most important things that ever happened in the TV business. It could turn Netflix Watch Instantly from a place you go to watch somewhat stale old stuff into the only destination for a hot new program–and it could set off massive changes in how television content is distributed.

Isn’t the biggest single advantage that cable has over the Internet that it has the big shows first? What if that wasn’t a given? What if Netflix does more of these deals and starts to look more like an on-demand, all-you-can-eat HBO? Wouldn’t iTunes and Amazon and other well-heeled purveyors of Internet video be interested in doing similar exclusive deals? What if a sizable chunk of the most popular shows are Internet-only by, say, 2015?

Over at All Things D, Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s head of content, is downplaying the significance of the news. And the show doesn’t premiere until late next year. But I suspect it’ll be clear pretty quickly whether this arrangement is the minor shift in approach that Sarandos describes or the great big deal that it could be.



7 Comments For This Post

  1. GadgetGav Says:

    This is a great move by Netflix. I'm already a subscriber, so it's not going to cost me any more. I lived in the UK when the original series aired and it was very good. I hope Kevin Spacey does a decent job in the remake. Looking forward to more like this. I'd subscribe to a streaming only version of HBO, rather than only getting HBO Go if I pay my cable company…

  2. johnwbaxter Says:

    Harry, you might well think that but as for me, I couldn't possibly comment.

    I loved the Ian Richardson House of Cards series (and the SSIDs of my various wireless routers demonstrate that).

    I hope the new series holds my attention as well as the British series did.

  3. Ryan Patterson Says:

    For me this is a major “who cares”. I’ve never used netflix and this will not get me to subscribe. I also don’t have cable or satellite TV service.

    Free HDTV over the air gets me all the broadcast networks. They have >80% of the shows I watch. Everything else I can wait for it to be released on blu-ray.

    Paying netflix so I can stream blurry videos that force me to use proprietary OS and software (silverlight only works on windows and OSX) is not appealing at all.

  4. jltnol Says:

    Hey Ryan

    I'm like you except for I DO subscribe to Netflix just to get their bluray disc shipped to my house to watch. I'm not a big fan of anything MS, including Silverlight, so while I don't have it installed on my Mac, my BluRay player has apps that allow me to stream Netflix, so if it has Silverlight or not, I don't care.

    They wave of the future will be TV over IP. As local stations sink deeper and deeper financially, turning off that transmitter once and for all will be a no brainer…. not to mention new IPTV startups who are ONLY available over the internet.

  5. CK1 Says:

    If you're like me and have an XBox 360 or similar gaming system, then Netflix is pretty much the exact same quality as any other channel that you find on television. For those of us who already have the hardware necessary to view Netflix in it's highest quality, this is definitely a game-changer.

  6. RJP3 Says:

    Correct CK1 — I have the $80 Roku box and stream Netflix and Hulu into the house in crystal clear HD.

    Also get over the very local basic package free from my internet provider.
    I have more than I can ever watch — for only $16 a month.

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