Netflix Moves Back Into Content Production With 'Cards'

Play associated audio

Netflix customers will soon have a new option: Along with the company's usual offerings, viewers will be able to watch a new show called House of Cards, a political drama adapted from a British show, and starring Kevin Spacey. David Fincher (known for The Social Network and Seven) will direct the first two episodes. But what's new about House of Cards is that all 13 episodes will be available at once — and they were financed by Netflix itself.

Netflix actually started creating its own content several years ago, creating a film production and distribution arm called Red Envelope. "That was really to ingratiate themselves with the filmmaking community, especially the independent filmmaking community, but also to have some sort of original programming that wasn't too expensive," author Gina Keating tells NPR's Steve Inskeep. Keating's latest book is Netflixed: The Epic Battle for America's Eyeballs,

The company folded Red Envelope in 2008, but is now moving back into content production with House of Cards. Keating says Netflix's goals are a little different now. "This is a much bigger bet. It's a lot more expensive; it is going to hit their bottom line in terms of cost," she says, "and the objective here is to sign up subscribers — that's all it is. It's to bring people in the door, get them to see House of Cards, and then look around and see what else there is, and stick around." And at $100 million committed for two seasons, it is indeed a big bet.

Keating says House of Cards could revolutionize television production. "All of those episodes are going to be put up at once, so it could really subvert the traditional storyline telling, where you have multiple storylines that you need to carry out through different episodes."

With every episode available at once, House of Cards won't be appointment viewing. But, Keating says, that could work in Netflix's favor. "I don't think people enjoy appointment viewing any more. I think they still talk about the series that they want to see. They share — you know, I loved Weeds, I love whatever program they've been watching — and I think Netflix has an advantage that I don't think any other purveyor of content has, and that is 15 years of data on subscribers, not just on what they like, but also on how they use the service ... and they can program to that."

"They have a very powerful matching algorithm that underpins the way that your Netflix page works," she continues. "Everybody's Netflix page looks different based on what they've viewed in the past and liked. And then they can aggregate those communities to create audiences for content."

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

'Star Wars' Editors Defy Hollywood Conventions

In a film industry often dominated by men, there's at least one exception: Many editors are women. Maryann Brandon and Mary Jo Markey speak about their work on the new Star Wars.
NPR

Florida Says Its Fruits, Vegetables Are Safe From Invasive Fruit Fly

Since September, Florida has been fighting an infestation of the Oriental fruit fly, an invasive pest that threatened more than 400 crops. The state declared the insect eradicated as of Saturday.
NPR

The Senate Battle That Looms For Scalia's Replacement

NPR's Domenico Montanaro discusses the upcoming battle on Capitol Hill on replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court.
NPR

Colonialism Comment Puts Facebook Under Scrutiny

A Facebook board member lambasted a decision by regulators in India, the social network's second-largest market. He thereby sparked new scrutiny of Facebook's intentions in that country.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.