Saturday, February 02, 2013

Netflix gambles with full 'House of Cards' season one release

Netflix is gambling big on its new series, "House of Cards," which stars Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright. Much like it plans to do with the upcoming "Arrested Development" season, set to debut in May, Netflix on Friday released all of the season's 13 episodes of "House of Cards" at once. It's a gamble. By releasing them all at once, Netflix risks people taking advantage of the situation.

What does that mean? The premiere episode is free even to non-subscribers. To watch the rest of the season requires folks to sign up for a subscription of $7.99 or more (that price is for the company's streaming-only option). However, it would be simple for a customer to sign up, watch the remaining 12 episodes, then cancel the service.

Netflix believes, though, that a differentiating factor between itself and other streaming services will be the exclusive, original content that they -- and honestly, other services -- will be able to offer. Season one of "House of Cards" is estimated to have cost around $50 million. Thus, the risk is large for the company.

"House of Cards" isn't its first foray into original content. "Lilyhammer" was its first original series, and has been scheduled for a second season. The original horror series "Hemlock Grove" will debut on April 19. Other projects include "Orange is the New Black" from the creator of "Weeds," and "Derek" with Ricky Gervais.

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In early December of last year, Netflix inked a major exclusive distribution deal with Walt Disney, allowing the company to stream films from Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar Animation, Marvel Studios, and Disney Nature.

It's not winning all the streaming battles, though. announced on Friday it had signed an exclusive deal with PBS for "Downton Abbey" streaming. The Internet retailer also announced earlier that it had acquired the TV rights to "Zombieland."

These reports show that streaming video services and "connected TV series" are here to stay, and that they changing the TV landscape. For example, we may see the first Internet-only TV series garner an Emmy nomination. In a review, the Los Angeles Times predicted that "House of Cards" will "in all probability become the first non-televised television show to receive an Emmy nomination, or four."

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