If you haven’t heard about “House of Cards” then you must be living under a rock. “House of Cards” is the new breakout show from Netflix’s stable of original programming. The show is a political drama (it was adapted from a BBC series with the same name) that is based on Frank Underwood (played by a menacing Kevin Spacey). Frank is the House Majority Whip who thought he was next in line for Secretary of State, once he finds out he has been passed up, the premise and layout of the show begins in the many plays by Frank to exact his revenge.
For a show so heavily based on politics, I didn’t think I would like this show as much as I did but I did (do). It’s so well written and so clever you have no choice but to be drawn in. I have to say the casting for this show is fantastic. You can tell the actors have their characters down to a tee and made them their own, the simple mannerisms such as Zoe Barnes (played by Kate Mara) always chewing on her fingernails when she gets anxious or nervous. Frank Underwood is a menacing character (with way too many awesome one liners), who would stop at nothing to get what he wants and clearly has no moral boundaries. Claire Underwood (played by Robin Wright) is his devoted wife, who is so icy and chilling, I think I was more scared of her than I was of Frank. I can’t really say much without giving the plot away but I would recommend watching this show. All 13 episodes are available for streaming on Netflix and the next 13 are currently in production.
Deviating from the show, I want to speak about what this means for Netflix. Clearly, Netflix has presented a new direction in the way we watch “TV”. Oddly enough, this isn’t Netflix’s first original program – LilyHammer with Steve Van Zandt was but it sure didn’t get as much recognition as HOC is getting. A few days ago, a headline informed us that HOC is Netflix’s most watched program. Giving the rough turn the company faced some time ago, this must be good news but how long will it last? My main question is how does this affect Netflix’s profit margin? Netflix dropped $100 million for the 26 episodes of HOC, while I am unclear if this includes actor salaries, I know this show cannot be cheap. We have Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright as leads, two well known actors in their own right and then we have David Fincher (Social Network) directing, that has to be some good money. Also remember that Netflix doesn’t have any ad revenue to fall back on and can only rely on viewer subscriptions, but is that enough? As at last check, they have 5 other shows in the works including a kiddie animated show (once again, animation-not cheap). Netflix Chief Content Officer, Ted Sarandos says HOC is pulling great numbers but will not reveal ratings numbers. I guess we will find out in a few years.
How is Netflix changing the face of TV? Well, most of us will agree that marathon-ing a show is the best way to watch a show, you don’t have to wait till next week and you just get it out your system. Some may argue that the anticipation of waiting every week for a new episode adds to the experience (identify yourselves!). As a consumer, I am all for Netflix’s direction, it benefits me, especially when it is good content, I can fly through the episodes in no time but on the business side, I’m not so convinced. Is Netflix a threat yet? I wouldn’t say so but I’ll say a huge thank you for adding to my options for TV watching.
If you have watched HOC, what do you think? If you haven’t what are you waiting for? Go watch it and come let me know what you think!