Whats fascinated me these past few weeks has been the tumultuous path that Netflix has been walking on. The company has had to endure new competition from Amazon which threatens to outmuscle them with their vast infrastructure; content producers Starz and ShowTime have pulled or stalled premium content from the streaming service, and movie studios like Warner Bros. have begun experimenting with ways to bypass the company altogether using new mediums like Facebook. It seems that the end is near for Netflixs miracle run.
Or is it? The digital streaming company rocked the entertainment industry one more time by announcing it would become an original producer of House of Cards, an exclusive TV series yet to be produced and starring Kevin Spacey. The move to exclusive content is a risky bet for Netflix, but it puts the company in a position to take on subscription giants like HBO and further differentiate itself from competing distribution services like Amazon. According to NPD Group, Netflix already has a subscription base of 20 million compared to HBOs 28 million, no doubt scary numbers for the traditional media companies.
Netflixs charge to the entertainment industry not only carries a change in the landscape of Hollywood but also a change in the average consumers living room and how they digest media. If Netflix is successful in its gamble, it could pull in a demographic that isnt knowledgeable about streaming services but will begin to familiarize itself in order to receive those exclusive channels. With accelerated adoption, it would open a demand for creating new experiences on television, a vision shared by Google and Apple with their smart TV platforms. This, in turn, would create a new ecosystem of applications catering to this new medium, much like the smartphones and tablets have done. Not only a new ecosystem for app makers to play in, but more options for the consumer when it comes to viewing content which has always been far too limited.
But first, lets hope Kevin Spacey can deliver.