Like a lot of other people, I’ve been watching the Netflix original series “House of Cards“. It’s pretty good. Not HBO good, but definitely AMC good, and that’s a hell of an achievement for a first effort.
Hopefully it’s the beginning of a lot of original content from Netflix. I don’t think there are very many people cheering on the traditional big entertainment companies. Netflix can create content, then play with essentially every aspect of traditional series distribution.
We all know there are some things the existing television networks do because they’re greedy. I wonder, though, if some of the traditions in television are also because they’ve been doing it for a long time and they know what people need.
Every episode of House of Cards was available day 1. On 2/1/2013, the entire season was released to Netflix at once. If you wanted to, you could watch them back-to-back and finish the series in a weekend.
It’s awesome that Netflix is re-considering all of the facets of distributing a series. A lot of it was broken. However, I don’t think everything was.
We don’t just watch a single episode a week because we’re beholden to megacorporate masters; it’s also kind of fun.
I think there’s more to the magic of FX, AMC, or HBO than just creating good content. There’s also something to be said for everyone being on the same page at once. With a weekly series, everyone is waiting for the same cliffhangers. Everyone sees the same reveal on the same night.
Finales are events, not just the 13th hour of a weekend marathon.
When The Sopranos was at its peak, you could strike up conversations with random strangers at dinner and they were watching it. They had opinions about the plot. They had favorite characters. They were concerned about outcomes. We were all waiting for the next thing. That’s not a broken model. That’s a culture on the same page.
To a smaller degree and in smaller groups, you can experience a similar effect now with Breaking Bad and Mad Men.
That’s the sort of buzz that would really benefit Netflix: an enduring season of fans evangelizing your product. Netflix has the opportunity to do this globally. They’ve got the chance to create synchronized cultural events, not just a month of fanatical buzz.
I hope that as Netflix’s portfolio of original content grows, they reconsider some of the time-tested formulas used by other networks. They’ve been doing this for a long time, and I don’t know that we have to throw out every method we associate with them.