If you're not a fan of House of Cards, the original Netflix show based on the much acclaimed UK series, you probably don't give a hoot that season two is just about ready to begin. But even if you aren't a fan of the show there are plenty of reasons why, as members of the online video community, or as fans of online video, you should be interested in its upcoming second season.
House of Cards might not be your kind of show. The action is subdued and it's more political thriller than it is action-packed blockbuster, but there's plenty to be interested in from a non-fan perspective.
#1 It Proved That Original Content Works
First of all, House of Cards represents Netflix's dedication to getting original content exclusive to its streaming service, and its disc-shipping service. That's a major value add for subscribers since it makes Netflix the only place to see this content aside from purchasing the discs of the full season from Amazon.
By bringing the show back for a second season it shows that the model is working. If no one had watched the first season, there would not be much sense in pouring more money into a second season. TV cancels shows mid-season all the time so clearly, if House of Cards didn't gain an audience, it could have easily been cut and that money diverted elsewhere. OK, Netflix had actually purchased 26 episodes up front, so they were pretty confident that it would gain audience and be seen as a value add to the subscription service's offering. House of Cards is to Netflix as Mad Men or Breaking Bad was to AMC, The Sopranos was to HBO. If we look at those companies as models for prognostication on the future of Netflix we can expect to see a string of hit shows from them after this one.
#2 It's a Trail Blazer
Second, House of Cards is a trail blazer. A year ago when Netflix first made the content available it was the first bigger budget original web show with major distribution. Netflix offers the show in 40 countries, to almost 30 million subscribers, not to mention (again) its up front 26-episode deal. Not only that, but it's been reported that Netflix threw over $100 million at it to outbid AMC and HBO. Clearly, they have a path to the future and the first leg of that trip was getting House of Cards and making it a contender for new content in the future.
#3 It's a Triumph of Marketing
Third, Netflix used a precision marketing campaign versus the all out assault on the senses that precedes many new TV shows. They took a laser focus and aimed it at people who subscribe and have watched something similar in the past. They also decided, when the show began, that they would allow the first episode to be streamed for free, taking a page out of an older marketing book - hook them with a free sample of the product.
#4 It Changed the Way We Consume Video
Finally, House of Cards is changing the way we consume video content. No more waiting a week for a new episode. Netflix made the entire season available at once. Some say that takes away an element of the cliffhanger and the suspense. But it also means that viewers can maximize their weekend entertainment by catching up on a whole season as they please. It means that commuters can watch as they sit on the train, or hipsters can watch at their local cafe, or someone could watch the season in a combination of places, across a wide range of devices and at any time of the day. The way Netflix published the show means that we can all cater our watching to our own desires and needs. If we want to sit down and binge on a whole season in a day, we can. If we need to watch in small snippets, we can. If we want to create our own sense of suspense and put a day or a week or a month between each episode...we can.
So, have you got some interest in tomorrow's premier of House of Cards season two now? All 13 episodes will be available from 12.01am PST, 3.01am EST, and 8.01am GMT.
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