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Thursday, February 7, 2013

Who's Watching 'House of Cards'? (And Why It Really Matters)

I am. I love intellectual suspense-drama with politics as the vehicle. And I like how Kevin Spacey is doing a character so far from his real self and doing in convincingly. While it moves quickly it is not about car chases, murders, shoot outs or massive political conspiracies. It reflects the dark side of Washington, and the human side of the city. I recommend it. It is "free" on Netflix if you are a subscriber, on demand and in HD. As for success, all that matters to Netflix is how many subscribers it can attract and how many it retains. They have very specific tracking when you watch anything and know who (not the person, but the demographic) signs on and pays for the first time and what they choose to watch. -Art Lynch. SAGACTORONLINE.
By Tim Molloy
It's possible that up to 2.7 million people watched at least one episode of the new Netflix drama "House of Cards" the day after its release.
But we really can't say.
Such an audience would rival that of some premium cable dramas, but not most network shows.
If that's the actual audience, that is.
We'd like to provide you with more than a speculative figure, but we can't. Netflix isn't releasing any numbers, and has no immediate plans to. So we're relying on some clever analysis from the broadband firm Procera, which monitored some of the country's largest cable and DSL networks on Saturday to extrapolate that between 1.5 million and 2.7 million people watched one or more episodes.
Netflix declined to comment.
Why won't Netflix share its actual numbers? Precisely to avoid articles like this one, which -- with solid numbers -- might gauge Netflix's early success against that of broadcast and cable networks.
With that apples-to-apples comparison, we could tell you with some degree of certainly who should be worried about Netflix's huge gamble on the Kevin Spacey-David Fincher political saga: Broadcasters? HBO? Showtime? 
But no one outside of Netflix knows anything. And for TV executives, that might be the scariest scenario of all.
The Internet has wounded or killed many brick-and-mortal entertainment outlets -- music stores, book stores, movie theaters -- because it can provide an entertainment experience that doesn't require consumers to leave home.
Television has fared better than other media, in part because it is arguably as convenient as the Internet -- and had a half-century head start on creating entertainment. TV and the Internet are closely interwoven, with networks and studios providing previously-aired shows for services like Netflix.
Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes brushed off attempts to pit Netflix against his company's HBO in an earnings call Wednesday. He noted that many Warner Bros. shows are available to Netflix subscribers -- even as he stressed that his company is far ahead of Netflix in creating originals.
Bewkes said HBO now has 114 million subscribers -- nearly four times as many as Netflix does. He said HBO has offered original shows for 25 years, adding: "It takes a while to get it up to scale."
But that isn't the only reason Netflix has no obvious competitor. There's also the fact that Netflix is doing something no one has done before.
The video-on-demand service is pouring millions of dollars into a high-quality show that isn't actually on TV. It is also offering all 13 episodes of the first season at once, like chapters in a book or songs in an album, instead of demanding that viewers tune in at a certain time.
The question now is whether other online outlets can -- will you indulge us one card joke? -- follow suit. One advantage of not sharing its viewership is that Netflix gets to give "House of Cards" time to thrive before networks or ratings-obsessed reporters can dismiss it.

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