BY CHRISTOPHER ESSNER
In a move that caught many by surprise, Netflix announced it would be producing its own original content – content intended to challenge the traditional broadcast and cable networks.
The popularity of streaming content has been on the rise lately. Successful websites such as HBO Go, Hulu and Netflix itself have proven there is a growing audience of online viewership. In the past, however, these websites have simply streamed movies and TV shows after they have already aired on their traditional platform.
With House of Cards, Netflix looks to turn this strategy on its head. The Kevin Spacey starring series is about a member of Congress playing the political game, all too common in world of Washington, D.C. It’s being called one of the most intelligent political shows since The West Wing, and its medium of broadcast may be one of the most intriguing aspects of the show.
In an article for IGN, series writer Beau Willimon says, “It’s good to shake up the paradigm every once in awhile. Because when you start having ‘tried and true’ measures of success and you start quantifying art in that way you start to get into a mode of stagnation.”
This show definitely “shakes up the paradigm.” You can’t see House of Cards on your TV. The show’s only platform is streaming from Netflix. In fact, the entire first season is now available for your viewing pleasure.
Kate Mara, who plays reporter Zoe Barnes on the show, appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live and commented on the reason for airing all the episodes at once.
“I usually wait for an entire season to be done anyway, so then I can just spend a whole weekend,” she says. “I just sit at home and watch Homeland all in one day. So I think Netflix was smart and thought, let’s just beat people to the punch.”
As more and more people take part in the binge watching of TV’s most popular shows, Netflix saw an opportunity to change the way the game is played. Not only that, its unique platform allows it to air without any commercials, something the premium channel networks have been able to previously use to their advantage.
“I don’t monetize it in any way. I don’t sell advertising, I’m not jockeying for a position with cable operators,” said Netflix’s chief content officer, Ted Sarandos, during a panel discussion at a technology conference in California.
Though Netflix has not released the viewership numbers for House of Cards, the NY Daily News reports that 11 percent of Netflix’s 33 million subscribers have watched the show. With the announcement they will be airing new episodes of TV series Arrested Development, Netflix hopes their new strategy opens up new avenues in the entertainment industry.