$100m 'House of Cards' comes up trumps
JUDGING by its reception among critics, 'House of Cards', Netflix's $100m (€75m) experiment in original television, is a very big success.
Starring Kevin Spacey (below) and directed by David Fincher, whose film credits include 'The Social Network' and 'Seven', anything less than rave reviews would have been surprising. But for Netflix, critical acclaim counts for next to nothing.
It has pioneered the "big data" approach to online media, where every measure of enjoyment is captured, analysed and stored.
Netflix knows every film and television show its subscribers have watched, and when, and whether they stuck with each until the end. It will have a better idea than traditional broadcasters would have about whether its investment in 'House of Cards' was worthwhile.
The series made its debut on February 1 and, for now, Netflix is saying little. A spokesman refused to be drawn on how popular it has been, what impact its high-profile introduction has had on the rate of new subscriptions, or how viewers are choosing to watch the 13 parts, which were all made available simultaneously.
"We're not releasing any data, but we are happy with the reception the show has got in the media, on social media and from our members in reviews," he said.
Procera Networks, an internet traffic monitoring company, has released figures that offer a hint.
Its marketing chief, Cam Cullen, said: "On one (American) broadband network, 11pc of Netflix subscribers watched at least one episode of the series."
Although imprecise, the figures suggest a significant portion of fans "binged" on the entire series in the first weekend it was available.
Mr Cullen said the "later episodes got their fair share of action" and the question for the series would be whether it "will have longevity with the binge viewing or not".
Netflix appears to have enough evidence that the experiment is paying off.
"No rest for the wicked," said the writer, Beau Willimon, this week. "Hard at work writing season two of 'House of Cards'." (© Daily Telegraph, London)