Netflix Original Programming? YES!

Netflix to offer new show via Netflix Instant Streaming

It’s been several days now since it was confirmed that Netflix would be venturing into the world of original content.  Much like HBO, Netflix is branching out from offering content from studios and other networks to optioning first run shows, to be available through Netflix Instant Streaming.

The entertainment world is expanding and changing at an alarming rate for fossils like me.  When my family first got HBO they aired mostly old and crappy movies and we got a booklet in the mail once a month with the schedule showing that, yes, you could watch A Little Romance seventeen times in a two week time period.  Honestly, it was heaven.

As pay movie channels began to spring up like weeds in a garden they also began to offer more recent movies and soon moved into offering their own movies and series.  A natural progression as they began competing directly with the broadcast networks and widening their appeal beyond movie junkies.

Netflix LogoThen the internet arrived.  Yeah, I was there for that.  And with it came online shopping and services…and Netflix.  After kicking the booties of brick and mortar video stores with their huge catalogue, good pricing, no late fees and uber-convenience, others jumped on the bandwagon.  Blockbuster Online was one of the first, but got its butt kicked because it sucked.

Now, fast forward about twenty minutes for the next revolution and you have Instant Streaming of movies and TV via the internet.  Oh, yes, I was more than happy to acquire a wireless home network and a Roku Netflix Player to take advantage of that additional movie fix.  All the while, the Netflix catalogue grew and grew and grew.  And all the while, others jumped on the bandwagon.

Now Netflix is done with simple redistribution of the material of others – they’ve decided to move into original programming.  HBO started with the occasional movie.  They and Showtime branched out into some of the most successful series on television today.  Netflix is skipping all the preliminaries and aiming for the fence on their first swing.  They’ve optioned a huge series with big names for a lot of episodes.  I’m so happy I could weep.

From what I hear, Netflix will offer the series through their Instant Streaming program.  They didn’t wuss out and order a pilot, ohKevin Spacey by Sarah Ackerman no.  They went for it and ordered two full seasons of a high profile, much sought after property called House of Cards.  They’ll have first rights access to this remake of a successful British series to be produced and directed by David Fincher (you heard me) and starring Kevin Spacey (that’s right – you heard me!).  Be still my beating heart.

I waited a while before commenting on this news so as to offer a balanced, impartial look at this strategy by Netflix and offer an informed opinion as to its business viability.  SCREW THAT!  I love it!

Here’s why I love it.  Netflix is huge.  Right now they have all the money.  This is the perfect time to invest in a strategy that could pay off in major ways for them in the future.  I especially love how they didn’t pussy-foot around and order up a pilot that they would then maybe, possibly take to a half season and perhaps a few more episodes depending on how the pollsters decided the ratings were.

No.  They decided what they wanted and went for it.  Fincher and Spacey have no need to offer dribs and drabs of their work pending approval – I’m sure there was plenty of interest in this series.  While the other networks were busy trying to play games and get the best deal, Netflix jumped in, put its money where its mouth is and just ordered the damn thing hook, line and sinker.  Go Netflix!

Not only does this insure that the series will air, but also that it won’t get the typical network (broadcast and pay are equally guilty) shuffle as it decides whether the show is “good enough” to continue.  Nope – Fincher and Spacey get two full seasons to grow their product and their audience.  Finally – someone is willing to give a series more than a two episode chance before pulling the plug and replacing it with another crappy reality show.  Maybe someone at Netflix remembers all the way back to Freaks and Geeks and My So Called Life (both canceled in their first season, both with huge cult followings ever since) and figures they might want to avoid replacing good quality with single week ratings figures.

The Wall Street Journal reported today that Showtime is pulling some of their shows from Netflix Instant Streaming because of this new development (this is totally unconfirmed – Netflix seemed to know nothing about it).  Looks like a severe case of sour grapes –  Netflix didn’t stupidly retaliate when Showtime tried to edge into their gig with a streaming program of their own.  It’s good to know that there are still those out there willing to act like infants at the first sign of any competition.  Way to go, CBS and Showtime, you’re the infants of the hour!

Good luck Netflix.  And Fincher and Spacey.  No timeline for the series has been announced, but I know I’ll be watching.


photo by Sarah Ackerman

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