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Netflix Rolls Out the Red Carpet for 'House of Cards'

Netflix Rolls Out the Red Carpet for 'House of Cards'

Netflix is going all out with the Friday premiere of its second original series, House of Cards. The pay streaming service is offering special incentives to existing and potential viewers to watch a show packed with A-list creative talent. House of Cards' makes it clear that Netflix wants to play on the same content stage as traditional cable channels.

By Richard Adhikari
02/02/13 7:00 AM PT

Netflix on Friday made the premiere episode of House of Cards, its in-house political drama, available free for one month to the public with no membership requirement.

It is also offering subscribers the entire 13 episodes of the first season at one time instead of parceling out each episode weekly.

"Netflix could be trying to create some buzz and make their content more accessible," Greg Ireland, a research manager at IDC, told TechNewsWorld. "Opening up access is a good, sound strategy to get exposure."

Netflix did not respond to our request for more details.

About House of Cards

The House of Cards series, as described by Netflix, is a political drama highlighting the "shadowy world of greed, sex and corruption in modern D.C."

Based on a BBC miniseries, it's the second original offering from Netflix after the gangster series Lilyhamnmer, starring Steven Van Zandt of The Sopranos and E Street Band fame.

House of Cards stars Oscar-winner Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright as Congressman Francis Underwood and his wife Claire. The series is directed by David Fincher of The Social Network and Fight Club.

Some reports have it that Netflix will invest up to $100 million for two 13-episode seasons of House of Cards. The company outbid HBO and other networks.

Bad for a Greater Good

Netflix's description of House of Cards' main characters said they "stop at nothing to conquer everything." That could also sum up Netflix's content plans.

The company plans to make at least five new series a year, and is offering Hollywood producers a large audience, a lot of money and an easy working environment.

Netflix has to be aggressive in marketing because it can't place ads everywhere and launch trailers like traditional programming companies can, Ireland said. "Even as a user of Netflix, you may be going into their website and pulling up your instant queue and watching whatever's next, and not paying attention to what's coming." That makes Netflix's approach "a good way to create buzz."

Launching a Video Blitzkrieg

Netflix is also releasing multiple episodes of other series at once. The shows involved include the fourth season of Arrested Development and the second season of Lilyhammer.

Providing access to multiple episodes of a TV series simultaneously "is in line with this whole idea of instant gratification and getting it all right now," said Andrew Eisner, director of community and content at Retrevo.

"That's consistent with consumers' desire to get everything as soon as possible," he added.

Content Barbarians at the Gates

Netflix's actions are part of new developments in the content distribution world. "There's a trend here, to have people that normally don't produce content becoming content producers, and I think you'll see other people moving in on Showtime and HBO," Eisner told TechNewsWorld.

That pressure could make the longtime pay channels nervous. HBO may counter by making its HBO Go streaming video service available on more platforms, he added.

Netflix's success with its program "could be a great driver of its growth as consumers seek it out for new content," said Ireland, "similar to the way we seek out HBO or Showtime for their original content."

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