Building a ‘House Of Cards’

by Colin McGuire. 0 Comments

Finally, some news on the one thing I’ve been waiting for to make news so I could write about it on this particular blog. Robin Wright (or, as some may most recently remember her, Robin Wright Penn) is officially partaking in negotiations to play the lead female role opposite Kevin Spacey in something called “House Of Cards.” There you go. That’s about the only news I could come up with that broke within the last few days.

It’s groundbreaking, isn’t it?

Well, unless you happen to be the treasurer of the Robin Wright fan club (or Sean Penn hate club, for that matter), I suppose such news isn’t all that important to you, the fabulously astute blog reader. And you’re right. What’s so important about the recently-divorced actress signing on to appear in some political thriller based on a BBC mini-series from the 1990s, you ask? Absolutely nothing.

But what is important is the fact that it finally allows me to babble about one of the more anticipated moves Internet-based television watching has taken over the last six months (unfortunately in March, before this blog existed). You see, “House Of Cards” is set to be the first Netflix-exclusive television program the company plans to stream. The show will begin airing in late 2012 and will feature the aforementioned Spacey as its star and the always-intriguing David Fincher as the program’s driving force.

The streaming service landed the exclusive rights to the show for $100 million (no joke) and so far, at least 26 episodes are promised for those interested in sitting down behind a computer screen for the sole purpose of watching a new television show for at least one hour a week. Yes, we are still more than a year away from truly figuring out what this program really is, and yes, we all know the possibilities of this failing before ever even leaving the ground are immense.

But …

What if this catches on? How long do you think it would take for Netflix to be a major player in the war that revolves around television ratings (in whichever form it could be calculated)? Could this be the beginning of what may someday become the only way people may be able to view television? Wait. Isn’t that exactly what we are trying to point out here with this blog? That’s what I thought.

Anyways, this becomes more interesting once you begin to consider how much Netflix really isinvesting in the future of the idea that people could depend exclusively on their Internet connection to view television. As the tech-y webiste Signal News recently asked …

When that $100 million bid was lopped together with the $200,000 that Netflix paid per episode for the ability to stream “Nip/Tuck,” with the $1 million they dropped per episode to stream “Man Men,” was Netflix not being prodigal with investors’ money?

Boy, that’s a great question, isn’t it? Netflix’s stock value has famously taken a hit in recent months and while more and more people are indeed turning to their computers to watch television, more and more people are also taking the time to find outlets that offer what they want to see for free, not for the nine bucks a month the streaming service charges. Granted, you’ll be able to see “House Of Cards” on only Netflix’s website (or at least that’ the plan), but let’s just say the show tanks and the move results in absolutely no positive outcome for the company. What happens to Netflix then? And what happens to the idea that watching television without a television is becoming the new norm?

Sure, this venture could ultimately be the announcement of another pseudo-political television drama to the naked eye. But the future of “House Of Cards” may mean much more to the future of an entire industry by the time this all shakes out. At this point, though, and with the admittedly limited knowledge we all have about what this show even is, the most important question becomes the following: Will any of you be tuning in to your computer screen of choice once the latter part of 2012 rolls around? As of June 2011, the jury for just about everyone — I would imagine — is still out. That said, it’s still a jury that will prove to be far more important to the future of the television industry than, say, the jury that tunes into “Desperate Housewives” every Sunday.

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