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Netflix Officially Grabs 'Cards'

18 Mar, 2011 By: Erik Gruenwedel

As expected, Netflix March 18 said it acquired the much-sought rights to an original scripted series from Media Rights Capital based on the British drama “House of Cards” during the regime of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

The Los Gatos, Calif.-based company paid an undisclosed amount for 26 hour-long episodes, which will be directed by Oscar-nominated David Fincher and starring Oscar-winner Kevin Spacey. The series, which will not be broadcast on network TV or cable, is slated to begin streaming next fall.

“We’ve found the serialized one-hour drama, such as ‘Heroes,’ ‘Lost,’ ‘Dexter’ and ‘Weeds,’ has become a very important part of the Netflix experience, and over the years, we’ve been able to add these shows from many different channels, with the notable exception of HBO,” Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer, wrote in blog post. “With Fincher’s unique vision, the incredible acting skills of Spacey, and a great and timeless story of power, corruption and lies, we think ‘House of Cards’ will become a big hit among Netflix members and, thus, represents a manageable risk.”

The CCO has made no secret of Netflix’s desire to acquire repurposed content from Time Warner-owned pay-TV channel HBO.

Sarandos said Netflix’s goal remained expanding selection of previous seasons of popular TV shows coupled with original programming.

“We may bring more exclusive series to Netflix in the future, if an opportunity arises that has the key elements a show needs to be successful: great storytelling and great storytellers,” he wrote.

Separately, a Netflix spokesperson confirmed the service has ratcheted up tests with social media site Facebook in an effort to better understand its subscribers and attract new ones. The tests will be voluntary for Netflix subscribers. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings announced the limited “test cells” in a letter to subscribers in January.

Also, Netflix has been sued for not captioning streaming titles and separately for allegedly retaining individual subscriber data after the user terminates membership, which is in violation of the Video Privacy Protection Act. The company has said it expects to have 80% of streams with captioning by the end of the year.

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