retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

Last week, we took note of how Netflix, which over the past few years has helped to completely rewrite the rules of video rental, has been flexing its muscles in a variety of directions, moving aggressively to gain an advantage in the video streaming business. And now, it actually is competing with pay-cable channels such as HBO for original content - potentially rewriting some more rules in the process.

Today, the Wall Street Journal reports that Netflix has “cut a deal to debut a new television series by Oscar-nominated director David Fincher on its Internet streaming service, in an agreement that departs dramatically from how traditional television programming is made and aired.

“Under the deal with independent studio Media Rights Capital, Netflix said ‘House of Cards’ - a political drama to be executive produced by Mr. Fincher and star Kevin Spacey - will begin playing exclusively on Netflix's Internet streaming service late next year.

“Netflix executives committed to a minimum of 26 episodes - two full seasons - of the series even before a test episode of the show was made, something that's highly unusual in the TV business. In general, TV networks don't commit to a show without a test episode, and usually reserve the right to cancel production of the series after a certain number of episodes if it is unpopular.”
KC's View:
The lesson needs to be driven home to every marketer - that competition often comes from unexpected, unanticipated directions, and from people and companies that are willing to change the rules or not adhere to conventional wisdom.