The one criticism that Netflix critics can successfully make against the video-on-demand service is that it’s slow: Top-shelf new movies and TV series tend to take a long time to come to Netflix-by-mail, much less Netflix streaming. Which is why the latest reports on Netflix’s entry into the original programming space are so intriguing: Netflix’s reported big-bucks purchase of a high-end drama series starring Kevin Spacey and directed by David Fincher could signal a plan to move towards the cutting edge of entertainment by getting into the original content business.
Titled House of Cards, the series in question is based on a political thriller and 1990 British miniseries of the same. Deadline reports that Netflix outbid both HBO and AMC for the rights to the show, and that Netflix could be paying up more than $100 million; however, the Wall Street Journal reports that talks are still in advanced stages, and that Netflix “is likely to pay much less than [$100 million.”
Netflix’s bid to license original content could prove disruptive to established players in home entertainment, who also charge monthly fees for programming. Netflix’s cheaper prices and ability to deliver programming when and where users want it could make the company a potent challenger.
Until now, however, Netflix has largely relied on cheaper content—such as older studio movies and TV shows—for its streaming service, rather than pay the premium prices that new movies or original series command.
If Netflix does get the rights to House of Cards, it’ll be a blow at HBO, to which it is increasingly being described as a rival service; earlier this year, HBO pooh-poohed talk of its content appearing on Netflix, saying the only way it would allow Netflix to carry its programming would be if Netflix raised its monthly fees from $7.99/month to at least $20/month.