Netflix Shopping for Original TV Series

Word that Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) is looking to compete with HBO and other TV networks for rights to original series leads today's cable news roundup.

  • Netflix is turning heads in Hollywood with its bold move to negotiate rights to original TV programming, including talks to acquire House of Cards, an original political drama series starring Kevin Spacey. (See Netflix-EPIX Deal Puts Pressure on Cable and Netflix: Comcast May Be Discriminating.)

  • Hours after pulling 17 network feeds from its iPad app because of overwhelming demand from subscribers, Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) made a beer run Wednesday afternoon to restore its full 32-channel lineup on the tablet. (See High Demand Crashes TWC's iPad App.)

  • Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Julius Genachowski doesn't buy the argument from broadcasters that cable and wireless firms are hoarding spectrum, noting that there is "no evidence of non-compliance." (See FCC Swaps TV Spectrum for Mobile Broadband and Charlie Ergen's Spectrum Grab .)

  • It pays to be in cable these days. Cable MSOs are the most profitable in the media and entertainment sectors, according to Ernst & Young International .

  • Shaw Direct, Shaw Communications Inc. 's satellite-TV division, has launched an Internet-fed video-on-demand service to help it match up with VoD services from competitors such as BCE Inc. (Bell Canada) (NYSE/Toronto: BCE), Rogers Communications Inc. (Toronto: RCI) and Videotron Ltd. . Shaw's cable unit, of course, also offers VoD, but the satellite unit's initial play is reportedly starting off with only standard-def streams.

  • Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) may be preparing to launch an app store for Android phones with prices that will undercut Google (Nasdaq: GOOG)'s Android Marketplace. (See Comcast Xfinity TV App Hits Android.)

    — Steve Donohue, Special to Light Reading Cable, and Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

  • SteveDonohue 12/5/2012 | 5:10:13 PM
    re: Netflix Shopping for Original TV Series

    I'm not sure how much it makes sense for Netflix to spend heavily to acquire big-budget original dramas along the lines of NBC's  The Event or this new series with Kevin Spacey.  When DirecTV decided to buy the rights to Friday Night Lights after NBC pulled the plug on the original after its first two seasons, it was able to lure hardcore fans of the series as new satellite subscribers. Netflix also may be able to grow its subscriber base by buying rights to established series that would only be avaiable to Netflix customers. But would TV viewers be willing to subscribe to Netflix to see a series they have never seen before, even if it stars someone as talented as Kevin Spacey?  He is a great actor (as demonstrated in my favorite clip from Inside The Actors Studio), but I don't know if he's that good.  


    Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 5:10:11 PM
    re: Netflix Shopping for Original TV Series

    It's definitely another sign of Netflix's change in direction. I agree, though, if it makes sense for them to shell out big dollars on it if the return is questionable.  They've built a great biz by buying access to huge libraries... but maybe they see a flattening out ahead and want to be prepared in case they do need to shore up with original and exclusive content.

    But if Spacey lands the Netflix deal, he should be thankful. The buzz the series is getting well before its debut anywhere has already got to be higher than it would be getting if the story was that he was about to sign a deal with HBO.

    And this sort of move has got to be putting a bit of a scare into HBO and other programmers, not to mention traditional video service providers.


    Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 5:10:03 PM
    re: Netflix Shopping for Original TV Series

    Netflix made it official today as Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos blogged that Netflix sealed the exclusive streaming rights to Kevin Spacey's TV series, House of Cards,  in the US and Canada. "We've committed to at least 26 episodes of the serialized drama, which is based on a BBC mini-series from the 1990s that's been a favorite of Netflix members," he wrote.

    Financial terms not disclosed, but Sarandos acknowledges that the deal "represents a slightly more risky approach" for the company since it's licensing it before it's even produced.  

    Without  knowing the $$ in the deal it's hard to assess the risk they are taking, but do you think this is a good or bad move by Netflix?  Or did they simply have to do something like this? JB


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