House of Cards–Netflix’s ticket to profit
Recently, DVD and streaming on demand site, Netflix, released their first full production show, the House of Cards. Featuring Kevin Spacey and a couple other prominent actors, the show is an over dramatized sexy West Wing, featuring all the back room deals and scandals we imagine happening in Washington D.C.
But, the content of the show itself is not the big topic for House of Cards. In actuality, the first season on Netflix isn’t very captivating. Spacey plays the majority WHIP in the fantasy Congress and gives the impression that he actually runs the country, not the faux-president. What makes the show so interesting is the fact that Netflix funded and produced the entire thing itself.
Netflix opened the door to a whole new world of content viewing. House of Cards isn’t going to be their pot of gold, but the ideas behind it are. By creating their own shows, they no longer have to wait for the big hands of corporate television to feed them, and by skipping the middle man they are giving their subscribers exactly what they want; pure untampered content available whenever they want it.
The only topic for discussion on this side of content is whether or not a provider like Netflix should release all the episodes at once, allowing a viewer to “binge-view” the entire show. While some might see this as stupid, I disagree. Look, Netflix already has your money, and while that sounds blunt, it’s true. The only reason the cable providers put shows out on a weekly basis was to have a steady way to entice companies to buy their advertising spots, and produce weekly ratings to fulfill them. There is no point in Netflix letting shows go week by week, if a consumer wants to watch 20 episodes, let them, they’ll still have to wait several months for the next season.
What does this mean for old-school TV?
It means that for the first time in media history, a show is produced without a network legal or marketing team philandering with the content of the shows I’m trying to watch. For the first time, the creators of the show are able to produce a show in its original state, without any cuts and rewrites to water down the substance so it can be fit for all audiences. Netflix is making it clear: We will produce the content our viewers want to see.
Networks like CBS, TNT and FOX should be shaking in their over-polished shoes. If something like this continues, which it will, their ratings are going to plummet to the basement. HBO is looking at ways to deliver content without a cable subscription, and Netflix is exploring the possibility of taking on more in-house content productions. Why pay upwards of 50-100 dollars a month for the 6 channels you watch and the 120 that you don’t on TV, when you can pay for an Apple TV or an XBOX 360 and then subscribe to individual providers.
Where is media programming going?
Without opening a whole can of worms about media in general, TV (and I use this phrase lightly) programming is quickly moving towards an on-demand style of viewing. What this means for us, the consumers, is that by paying monthly charges of 10-20 dollars towards a Netflix, ESPN (yes they’ll be there too) or HBO, you’ll be able to stream the content you want on a laptop, tablet or your TV. We’re moving away from the era of having to record programming because we weren’t able to sit at the tube at exactly the right time, and moving towards an era of being able to view something when and where we want it. Writers and producers would be stupid not to start looking at the possibilities of working with the production teams at these new media producers.