House Of Cards starts next week on Netflix, and see the beginning of a series of original programming by the digital firm that could completely change the dynamic of big scale TV in the US.
House Of Cards is the first fully original show to be both commissioned and distributed solely by online streaming service Netflix and sees Kevin Spacey, Kate Mara and Robin Wright star in a tense political drama about a ruthless politician who will sacrifice everything to reach the top.
While plenty of video content has been made simply for the digital world, it is, with all due respect, not up to the same levels of quality that we see on the screen in House Of Cards. By that we don’t mean the writing; as both internet series The Guild and Joss Whedon’s purely online project Dr Horrible’s Sing Along Blog are better written than the majority of TV sitcoms.
Despite being hilarious, they are both still clearly being filmed on a shoe string budget. House of Cards on the other hand is very clearly a show with not too many concerns about its bank balance. Lavish sets and actors that are more regularly seen at the top of movie posters are more the style for House of Cards.
This is the type of production that would only have been seen on HBO a couple of years ago. While other premium channels in America are also now doing this sort of programming, none have come out of the traps as hard as Netflix is with House Of Cards.
That they can not only attract the likes of Spacey, Mara and Wright to the production, as well as make it such a top quality affair once again shows that Netflix is not playing around when it comes to it's new TV production side.
Over the course of the next few months, Nexflix is set to bring to unleash a hand full of high profile original shows, ranging from the re-unification of critically adored comedy Arrested Development through to Eli Roth’s star studded horror series Hemlock Grove as well as acquiring exclusive rights to Ricky Gervais’ Derek and rescuing the American remake of The Killing from the oblivion of cancellation.
This is a radically aggressive step from Netflix, but one that could see them become a real player in the TV market. Making their original shows viewable solely on Netflix is also a rather handy way of eliminating piracy from the situation. While we’re sure the internet will figure out a way of copying the programmes before long, it’s a nice little inbuilt bit of security for these new shows.
They’re also appealing to exactly the right audience with this raft of programming too. These are shows purposefully designed for those tired of network TV in the States and more interested in the smaller, cult shows.
Arrested Development was never as big as The Big Bang Theory or Friends when it came to ratings, but has more online adoration than most other shows combined. The Killing was a show that didn’t deal in the same tropes as other detective shows. An Eli Roth headed horror series isn’t going to appeal to a mass market audience, but will be loved by a niche one.
These are the Brits who will download Breaking Bad, Parks and Recreation and Community thanks to bad transition deals for the UK and the Americans who watch Doctor Who and The IT Crowd. These new programming deals are massive carrots under their collective noses.
While we’re yet to see how many new subscribers Netflix get out of the gamble, but it’s the smartest play they could have made with the resources they have at their disposal. Here’s to Channel Netflix!
House Of Cards starts February 1st exclusively on Netflix.
FemaleFirst Cameron Smith