James Dempsey: Netflix tries to change TV with first ‘event’ shifting attention from the goggle box to the Google box
HOUSE of Cards opens with the sound of a car crashing, but the driving forces behind this $100m Netflix vehicle really need it to be a smash. This remake of a 1990s’ BBC political-thriller marks Netflix’s first entirely original production, and with House of Cards the on-demand streaming TV site is hoping to trump the cable studios at their own game.
With the first two episodes directed by David Fincher, and starring Kevin Spacey as a shady politician with a thick southern drawl, House of Cards is perhaps the first big television event of 2013. Having ordered 26 episodes across a two-season agreement, however, this is the first event ever designed to turn your attention away from the goggle box, and redirect it towards the Google one.
With an audience of 25 million subscribers in the US, not to mention the one million that have signed up since the service launched in the UK and Ireland a year ago, Netflix has identified original programming as a key feature to its development. Out of the $6b licencsng budget for the next three years, Ted Sarantos, the company’s Chief Content Officer has designated $300m for its own shows, with the goal of launching five shows each year.