Netflix is officially delving into the world of scripted television. House of Cards debuts February 1, with all 13 episodes of the drama ready for view. Is this made-for-Netflix release signaling a new age in television? Will this move by the company, dominated by its streaming viewers, be the start of a new format for scripted series? In many ways, it looks like House of Cards will be a warning signal to other television networks. And the venture, though costly, could produce major, game changing results.
House of Cards stars Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright, with its first two episodes directed by David Fincher. This is not a small time production. Spacey is a two time Oscar winner, and Fincher is a major film director, with The Social Network and Fight Club to his credit. In this political thriller, Spacey will play conniving Majority Whip Francis Underwood. Francis has his eyes set on the presidency, and will do anything to get what he wants. The new series is based off the 1990's British TV series of the same name; with the pedigree bar set so high, it is anyone's guess how audiences will receive it.
By releasing the series directly online, Netflix is venturing into uncharted territory. What this does is shape Netflix' original programming around viewers' wants and desires. As Entertainment Weekly reports, "Netflix CEO Reed Hastings wants to feed our guilty-pleasure viewing habit. He's previously declared that Netflix's brand for TV shows is really about binge viewing."
There is no quote that could describe the move more precisely than that. This is "binge viewing" at its finest. All the episodes are instantly available with no waiting time. The viewer has the choice to view them all at once or space them out. This is America, the king of all things binge related.
This move could be brilliant on the part of Netflix, as they also plan to stream a fourth season of the cancelled cult hit Arrested Development in May of this year. The company is on the cutting edge with its streaming service, and if this move into scripted series work pays off, it could change the face of modern television. It would certainly strike a blow to the major television networks and their original programming.
The major networks, including CBS, NBC, and ABC, have already taken hits from the likes of HBO and Showtime, to name a few. But Netflix is another entity entirely. Right now it's the company people rent movies from, but this could all change if House of Cards is a success. Netflix could potentially become the premiere channel for original programming.
Television is changing. More people want instant access to the shows of their choice, and they do not want to wait. Netflix could strike gold with this move, and take a hit at every other major network in the process With the release of House of Cards, Netflix could change how the world of scripted television operates forever.