Netflix Bids on Original Series: 'House of 'Cards'
Netflix Bids for $100 Million for Original TV Series House of Cards
Netflix is in negotiations to acquire House of Cards, an original TV series from David Fincher and Kevin Spacey. Netflix has bid $100 million for the right to distribute the series, so far giving it the edge over HBO and Showtime.
If this deal goes through, House of Cards would not be a TV show, but a web show. This would be Netflix' first foray into original content, and the prospect is terrifying to existing TV networks. Never mind BitTorrent: cheap and ubiquitous web streaming is the biggest threat to TV as we know it.
There have been other successful web-only properties; Sanctuary began life as a very popular series of sci-fi webisodes, but the apotheosis of its success was transformation into a TV series. What happens, though, when video content leaves the web-browser ghetto?
Netflix As A Legit Threat to Networks
Netflix is practically a utility in many American households; in the Tivo age, families are far more proactive in terms of what--and when-- they watch. They are content-focused, rather than network focused.
The potential for Netflix as a distributor opens new space for filmmakers, too: aside from marketability, branding is also a factor in whether or not a series gets green-lit. Well, Netflix has no network brand. It's just content with some red web theming.
Netflix has tried to get into distribution before, but failed. The Wall Street Journal posits that Netflix is just firing a warning shot at the networks in order to get better bargaining leverage: "Give us a better deal, because you need us more than we need you".
How would Netflix recoup its investment, presuming that $100 million figure is correct? It would need nearly a million new subscribers, if House of Cards was offered along with Netflix' other content on its all-you-can-eat model. Alternately, it could charge a nominal additional fee for original content, leveraging its position of trust and network stability. I have my doubts about that even as I type it.
Perhaps House of Cards is an apt title for what could be Netflix first foray into original programming. Either way, though, the move won't break Netflix. If the scheme fails, it would fail gracefully: subscribers would just watch something else instead.