Netflix opens new front in war on networks

Netflix is dominating the online movie market in the US, and now it’s considering getting into original programming.

It was already known that from a sheer data use perspective, Netflix was having a major impact on data flow going through the web. It’s estimated to make up 20% of downstream traffic in the US at peak time, and when the streaming service launched in Canada, it had overtaken YouTube in data use within a matter of days.

That certainly suggested it would be doing extremely well in the paid video market, and now there are figures to back that theory up. A survey by NPD Group claims 61% of legal streaming or downloaded movies come via Netflix. To put that into an even clearer context, the number two spot is taken by Comcast at just eight percent.

According to the survey, customers favor the ease of use and low prices of Netflix even over services such as iTunes that have a much better selection of new releases.

It looks as if Netflix is looking for another selling point: exclusive and original content. According to, the company has beaten several cable companies to win a bidding war for a US remake of British political drama House of Cards (pictured). The series will be directed by The Social Network’s David Fincher and star Kevin Spacey.

Reportedly the deal is for a total of 26 episodes, which is quite the liberal “remake” given the original was a little under four hours long, followed by two sequels of 3hrs 20mins apiece. The total cost to Netflix, including the programming fees and the promotion is said to be more than $100 million. In other words, this isn’t the type of low-budget web video that you see in TV shows’ “bonus content”, but rather a full-fledged production with an HBO-style budget.

Deadline notes that it’s not just a case of it being unusual for an online firm to bid for a TV production, but it’s rare that any broadcaster would commit to such a lengthy run for a new show. Meanwhile the Wall Street Journal points out Netflix already has more subscribers than Showtime and has about 70% of the potential audience of HBO.

The deal looks to be for online broadcast only, with the producers retaining the ability to sell later rights to DVD sales or reruns on television.

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