Today, Netflix leads the way in changing how we watch ‘TV’ shows, as it releases a whole season (13 episodes) of its brand new political drama, House of Cards, at the one time.
House of Cards (based on the BBC mini-series of the same name) stars Kevin Spacey as Francis Underwood, the Majority Whip, whose ambition is to make it all the way to the top job, and he doesn’t care who he has to betray to get there!
Netflix paid $100million for 2 seasons (26 episodes) – outbidding the big cable networks, HBO and AMC (the networks that changed the landscape of TV, by taking risks on shows like Sex And The City, Entourage, Mad Men and Breaking Bad). It has an exclusive two-year window on the series. After that, the show’s producers can choose to stick with Netflix or take it to another outlet.
Netflix is is a taking a big gamble on House Of Cards, as there is no existing audience for it, not does it have the luxury of teasing out weekly storylines, between episodes, in the hope of picking up new audiences as the weeks go on. It has to hope that word of mouth, as well as a big marketing campaign, gets people signing up to Netflix to watch the show.
The fact that the show features some of Hollywood’s elite, both in front of and behind the scenes, should be a major drawcard. It stars Kevin Spacey as the ruthless politician; is produced by film director David Fincher (Fight Club, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The Social Network) – Fincher has also directed the first two episodes; and is penned by The Ides of March writer Beau Willimon.
By releasing all 13 episodes of House Of Cards at the one time, this means audiences no longer have to diarise the watching of an episode, nor do they have to wait a week until the next episode. Viewers can watch as they please – all in one marathon sitting, or over a number of days/weeks – viewers dictate the pace.
It also means, that a couple of weeks of poor ratings will not cause a network exec to panic and pull the show from the air. Fans get a commitment of a full 26 episodes to watch!
This is what audiences have been calling out for. However, there is a community feeling about knowing that other people are watching the same show as you at the same time. So how is this approach to ‘television’ going to affect our ‘water cooler’ conversations? If not everyone is watching the same episode at the same time, how can we all chat about it, or even tweet about it? And, how do we prevent spoilers from getting out?
Another question that many are asking, at a time when many people are already downloading TV shows illegally, is, will the fact that House Of Cards is being streamed online not lead to more piracy?
Kevin Spacey has addressed this saying, “Give the consumer what they want, when they want it, in the form they want it in, and they will buy it at a reasonable price and not steal it. So I actually think this way of putting it out there, giving the consumer the option,” will take “a huge bite” out of piracy.”
Spacey makes a good point – if the quality is good, and accessibility is simple, people are willing to pay for the service.
Netflix is available in Ireland for €6.99 a month and shows and movies can be viewed at anytime, anywhere you like, on over 800 devices – from smart phones, to tablets, to laptops and more.
Netflix has such a belief in what it’s doing with House of Cards, that it has already backed itself 100%, by committing to upload all 13 episodes of the new season of Arrested Development in May. There are also upcoming shows from the horror filmmaker Eli Roth (Hemlock Grove), Weeds creator Jenji Kohan and Ricky Gervais, with more shows to follow in 2014.
Below is the House of Cards trailer
House of Cards is available on Netflix now. If you are not a Netflix member, Netflix are offering the first episode of House Of Cards to everyone for free. Go to netflix.com/houseofcards for more information.