Saturday, February 16, 2013

Why the best TV show is not on TV

TV critics are calling House of Cards "seriously addictive" and "as good as Mad Men".  One gushed "I love this series" and confessed to watching all 13 episodes back to back.

And he could because, as the world knows by now, the new US series is being shown exclusively on Netflix, the movie and TV steaming service, rather than TV.  They released the whole first series on 1st Feb all in one go for their £5.99 a month subscribers.

I am sure it will reach TV screens eventually and will certainly be out on DVD box set soon.  But for now it's only online and you could watch it all for free by taking out a free 1 month trial of the service.

I haven't seen House of Cards but I like the quality US drama series generally and Kevin Spacey in particular, so maybe I will give it a go.  I am more interested in the fact that Netflix is investing a reported $100m in a series which is not being distributed in the "normal" way.

Quite a risk.  What if it had been a flop and critics had hated it?  That was unlikely given the stellar cast and super-talented David Fincher (se7en, The Social Network) directing early episodes.  Nevertheless $100m is a lot to recoup in subscriptions and, later on, DVD sales.

For me though it is a brilliant move and has already paid off regardless of the final tally of dollars recouped in subs and sales.  Netflix has already reaped some enormous intangible benefits.

Look at all the free publicity Netflix has received.  More than that, they have made a bold statement about their service - "We are not just about making other people's content available on your laptop.  We are creative, we back talent and we deliver it in the way you want".  In short they are saying "we are more like HBO than an online Blockbuster".

Think about your own perception of Netflix before House of Cards.  If you are like me you probably thought it was a fairly low cost way of getting some modest entertainment (old TV shows and not-that-recent films).

Now you might take a second look and see what else they have got up their sleeve.  For instance, in May all episodes of the new series of comedy show Arrested Development will be released at once.

As for the price tag, $100m is small change versus the company's $10 billion market valuation.  That is about $4 billion higher than it was only three weeks ago.  Thanks Kevin!

From the website: Guide to Spain's Autonomo system

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