By Jaime Weinman - Monday, February 4, 2013 - 0 Comments
The release of the first season of the loose U.S. remake of House of Cards on Netflix, and the massive publicity Netflix has stirred up for its new method of releasing an entire season at once, has brought a lot of discussion about whether taking in a whole season at once is a good way to watch TV. Encouraging binge-viewing over watching one episode at a time, effectively, is a big part of Netflix’s campaign for the show, as is the idea that distributing one episode at a time is an outdated model: Beau Willmon, the head writer of House of Cards, told the New York Times that someday TV “might even dispense with episodes altogether. You might just get eight straight hours or 10 straight hours, and you decide where to pause.”
Now, some of this talk is inseparable from Netflix’s attempt to take on the cable TV dinosaurs, the same way cable took on broadcast TV. In other words, Netflix’s campaign can be seen as a form of trolling HBO, or at least emphasizing the things they can do that HBO can’t or won’t. There’s a big advantage in appearing to be the distribution model of the future, because if Netflix can convince the world that this is the future of television, then that makes it easier for them to grab the big projects. House of Cards would probably have been more or less the same on HBO or Starz as it is on Netflix, but part of what attracted the producers to Netflix was the promise of being a game-changer and helping to shake up the way TV shows are distributed. The argument at the moment is not so much about what these shows should be like, creatively, as what is the most forward-looking way to release them and the most forward-looking outlet for production companies to go with.
By macleans.ca - Monday, January 28, 2013 at 1:00 PM - 0 Comments
Who’s watching? Who cares?
Netflix wants House of Cards, its new direct-to-streaming television drama, to get a lot of buzz and positive attention—and that may be more important than how many people actually watch it. The Americanized remake of the classic British miniseries, transplanting the Shakespearian story of a scheming politician to modern-day Washington, is the streaming service’s attempt to compete directly with cable TV services like HBO and Showtime. But unlike those networks, which release ratings information to the public, Netflix plans to keep the viewership numbers for House of Cards to itself after the show premieres on Feb. 1. “Our intention is not to release ratings, and that’s for a very good reason: we don’t have to,” says Kelly Bennett, chief marketing officer of Netflix. “We’ll define the success of these original shows in our own way.”
It could be the culmination of a trend that’s been building in TV for a long time: the shows that survive aren’t necessarily the ones that get the most viewers. They’re the ones that get people talking—even if, in this case, it’s only talking about the network’s refusal to release ratings.–
Not that networks have given up on ratings, especially the ones that still depend on ratings to sell advertising time. John Landgraf, head of the FX Network, told the Television Association that ratings “keep you honest.” Without them, he asked, “how will you determine whether something is a hit?” Dervla Kelly, senior director of corporate communications and network publicity for Shaw Media, adds, “You can have a lot of buzz about a show because it’s controversial or whatever, but there’s got to be some correlation with viewers.” But the strategy some networks already follow isn’t that different from Netﬂix’s: though they release ratings, that’s not the decisive factor in whether a show gets picked up. HBO’s Girls, which won the Golden Globe awards for best comedy and best actress, is in no danger of cancellation even though only 866,000 people watched the season premiere—a number that wouldn’t even be high for a Canadian show. Continue…
By Jaime Weinman - Thursday, May 10, 2012 at 10:03 AM - 0 Comments
Money is plentiful and dramas are provocative—on TV
David Cronenberg’s next project is called Knifeman, described by his production company as the story of a surgeon who “goes to extraordinary and unorthodox lengths to uncover the secrets of the human body.” It sounds like a very Cronenbergian feature film—except it’s a TV series the Canadian director will direct and produce. The announcement just confirmed the latest trend in show business: everybody wants to make their own television show. The film industry is losing a lot of its revenue, as reported in April by Benjamin Swinburne, an analyst for the financial services firm Morgan Stanley, but TV is doing great. Swinburne says “big media companies have protected themselves by diversifying more into television, a much healthier business,” as reported by Deadline.com’s executive editor David Lieberman. And filmmakers go where the investment is going, which is why everyone—from veterans like Cronenberg to young film school graduates—is taking a close look at TV. “People who understand where the business is flowing are heading into television in big ways,” said Joe Pichirallo, a film producer (Hollywoodland) and chair of the undergraduate film and television program at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.
It used to be that when a major film director went into television, it was only to direct a pilot, or to put his name on the series as a producer (like the feature director McG on the teen soap The O.C.). With the exception of writers, who might have more creative control in TV, no director or technician saw TV as a first choice. “With the glamorization of the film milieu since the 1930s,” says Daniel Doz, president of the Alberta College of Art and Design, “students have often idealized working in film rather than TV.” “In the past, people were not going for television, particularly directors,” Pichirallo adds. “They were thinking, ‘I’ve got to try my luck in features.’ ”
By Jaime Weinman - Monday, March 28, 2011 at 5:42 PM - 0 Comments
Now that Netflix has driven video rental companies out of business, it’s going after the television networks
Now that Netflix has driven video rental companies out of business, it’s going after the television networks. The online video-streaming company made a deal last week to produce its first original series, outbidding HBO and AMC for the rights to House of Cards, producer-star Kevin Spacey’s remake of an acclaimed British miniseries. Netflix reportedly won the rights to the show, featuring Spacey as an evil politician, by ordering 26 episodes up front without even making a pilot.
If the show succeeds, it could allow Netflix to displace cable TV: it doesn’t have the operating costs associated with a regular network, and instead of scheduling the show, it will simply release the episodes online, for people to sample whenever they want. Executives at Time-Warner, which owns HBO, were rattled enough that one of them ran to the Los Angeles Times denigrating Netflix’s chances: “It’s hard to see how that kind of economics can fit into a service that charges $8 or $10 a month, because the math doesn’t work.” Even if that’s true, Netflix may have no choice but to press ahead with its efforts; with Amazon and other companies starting their own streaming services, it can’t depend on other people’s movies and shows forever.