Mar 192011
In 1998 Reed Hastings founded Netflix, the lar...

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Three years ago, if you had asked people to choose between cable television and Netflix, the vast majority would have laughed at you. A DVD-by-mail service versus thousands of pieces of content always at your fingertips?

No one is laughing anymore.

Netflix has confirmed that they intend to pay forHouse of Cards a new show being produced by David Fincher (yes, he of Fight ClubThe Social Network, etc) and starring Kevin Spacey (yes, he of The Usual SuspectsAmerican Beauty, etc). Netflix is not paying for the full production of it, but instead they’re paying for the first-rights access to air it. In other words, they get the first “window” to show it to viewers.

And while the company is saying that this isn’t a shift in strategy, it could end up being potentially much more than that.

Up until now, Netflix has not had content in this first window. Instead, they’ve focused on the second or third or even fourth window. That is, they’ve shown content after it’s in theaters or on television for its initial run. And sometimes they don’t get content until after it’s been in theaters and then on television for quite some time. This catalog of content has been the service’s bread and butter.

But with House of Cards, the game changes. For the first time, they’re going to get people signing up to Netflix to get first access to content. And if it’s as good as the talent behind it suggests, they might get a lot of people signing up for that very reason.

And if that’s the case, they’ll be doing a lot more of these deals. And that would effectively make them a premium cable television channel — like HBO or Showtime. But they’ll be one with thousands more pieces of content for a lower monthly price. And they’ll be one not burdened by any artificial show times. Most importantly, they’ll be one not burdened by the cable television model — at all.

Read more . . .


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