The Other Big Show on TV this Weekend
I can’t believe I just spent the better part of the last two days watching 13 episodes of House of Cards on Netflix. Everyone’s talking about the Super Bowl today, but I think this is the real media industry news of the week.
Why? Great original content still costs a lot to make, and it matters for building an audience. I like to think of this as the media equivalent of great product.
In this instance, the product has been optimized for binge viewing. HBO and ABC have known for years that when people discover new shows they missed the first time around (like The Sopranos, Lost, or Game of Thrones), they devour entire seasons in single sittings. But it’s taken a while for writers to realize this change in consumer behavior.
For the first time, a big-budget series has been designed from the ground up for binge viewing. The plot, the storyline, the dialogue, the story arc, the characters - everything - has been optimized for non-stop viewing. It’s really a 10-hour movie with regular stopping points for sleep or work. You could never compress a compelling storyline like this into a single movie.
Then, Netflix released the whole product on Friday. All thirteen episodes. Not over 13 weeks, but in one shot. This has never happened before with a $100 million series. And from following friends of mine on Twitter and Facebook, it looks like I’m not the only one who binged on House of Cards this weekend.