Netflix is no stranger to making big deals that shake up the television and home movie landscape, and in a report we told you about yesterday, most of their moves seem to be working. After grabbing 61% of the digital video market, what is next for the company? Apparently, they are tired of simply acquiring rights to other people's content, and want to take on the world of original programming. Today, WSJ confirmed a Deadline story that talks are underway for Netflix to distribute an original television series.
What makes this story splash, however, are the specifics regarding what series they plan to distribute. Far from some indie production that might rest comfortably on the bottom of your instant queue, Netflix's foray into original programming looks to be with "House of Cards," based on the early 90's British miniseries of the same name. The series would be directed by David Fincher (Fight Club, The Social Network) in his first Television series (although he is familiar with music video). The series would star Kevin Spacey (American Beauty, everything else).
This is a big-budget, high name-recognition type of production, and would most likely attract a very large audience. The impact of Netflix offering instant original content to your TV or computer could be staggering. Sure, it follows the model that made HBO a success: Start by working as a screener of other people's films, and slowly start producing original content (Sopranos, Six Feet Under). But the difference with Netflix involves pricing and scheduling. A very cheap Netflix plan of around $8 per month gives you access to all of their streaming instant content. I'm quite sure I pay more for HBO and Showtime. Netflix also gives me the ability to watch any of their instant content whenever I want. Not all HBO and Showtime content is available at all times.
Some estimate that a show like "House of Cards" could run in the 4 - 6 million dollar range, and with the report that Netflix has signed on for a two season, 26 episode run it looks as though this could be an expensive proposition for the company. Netflix could probably play it safe and stick to what it does (very well), but with Amazon offering more and more streaming content and even Facebook getting into the market, playing it safe could end up being a risky move.