Netflix Releases All 13 Episodes Of Its Own TV Show House Of Cards At Once

from the day-and-datish? dept

We’ve been reasonably concerned about the growing fragmentation of online video, especially as Netflix is trying to directly take on HBO, Showtime and others, while still offering them an online outlet for their content. There’s been plenty of buzz about Netflix’s new series, House of Cards, starring Kevin Spacey and directed by David Fincher. Most people are talking about how Netflix spent a supposed $100 million on the series, and how it’s trying to be for Netflix what The Sopranos was for HBO. However, what’s probably more interesting is the fact that Netflix is releasing the entire first season — all 13 episodes — at once today. It’s something of a recognition of how many people view TV series today.

Netflix, of course, understands this quite well, as its streaming service has become quite popular with people as a way to “catch up” on the hot TV shows from last year that people missed when they were first aired. A growing number of people really really like just being able to “binge” on a TV show and watch them all over a short period of time. However, some purists worry that releasing all of the episodes at once takes away from some of the suspense and enjoyment. At the very least, it limits the “watercooler” moments the day after something airs, but with so many people just recording stuff and watching it later, that social moment was under attack already anyway.

It will be interesting to see how well the show does, and how people react to all 13 episodes being available at once. Perhaps my brain is still stuck in the “old way” of television, but this strikes me as quite different than something like movie windows, which feel really stupid. A “series” that dribbles out content once a week (but lets anyone catch up with full episodes later), seems perfectly reasonable. I almost wonder if releasing all the episodes at once takes away from long term buzz for the show as a story arc grows across a season. Also, it may make for a different kind of commitment from viewers. People who might jump in knowing that they’re really only committing an hour, may be more fearful about recognizing they may be about to get sucked in to something much longer.

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Comments on “Netflix Releases All 13 Episodes Of Its Own TV Show House Of Cards At Once”

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btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Downside? I’ve been holding out on “Dexter”
since it first started as I want to watch
every episode of every season non-stop.

I was doing that with BREAKING BAD and I kinda regret it. After a while, the number episodes becomes so great that I get burnt out on it and it ends up sitting for weeks at a time before I come back to it.

It’s one thing to binge on 12 episodes of a show at a time. It’s another to try it with 50+ episodes.

GMacGuffin says:

I was thinking about this issue when I heard about it yesterday. I’m guessing Netflix had enough stats to know it wouldn’t hurt viewership. And if that’s the case, then this approach gives the viewer more options: Binge if you want, trickle if you don’t…

I like options, even ones I don’t use (like being able to buy booze all night long in Nevada).

Anonymous Coward says:

With the way the big networks cancel shows these days, I think this is great. I won’t even start watching a show until a season is over anyway. If I start watching right away, it usually gets canceled and any excitement I had is ruined. At least by waiting, I know what to expect. So in my case, these common cancellation practices of the big networks have caused them to lose a viewer early on when they want them the most.

Anonymous Coward says:

“I almost wonder if releasing all the episodes at once takes away from long term buzz for the show as a story arc grows across a season.”
I’d have to agree with this. Being a total nerd and watching a lot of anime, both old and new, I can say that I’m more likely to have a fond view of a show that’s spread out over three months than one that I watch in two to three sittings. A spectacular show can make up for the lack of anticipation, but overall the weekly schedule works better. While fiddling with alternative release schedules, maybe try different amounts in a given timeframe? Perhaps two episodes a week, or maybe (show permitting) variable length episodes containing an entire story arc?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I on the other hand much prefer to watch and entire season over a short period. The whole waiting for a week, two weeks, months etc. is just pointless.

If all the episodes are available in one go I can choose to watch them back to back and you can choose to watch one per week, or however you want to break them up.

That is the best thing about choice – flexibility and being able to suit a much broader range of people.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

A spectacular show can make up for the lack of anticipation, but overall the weekly schedule works better.

Funny, I tend to spend very little time anticipating a new episode. I just forget about it until something reminds me that the new episode has come out, or if I really care, I’ll check about the time it should be coming out.

Basic Pavlovian psychology supports this for any kind of fixed schedule.

In other words, the most anticipation can do is ensure I’m around when the next episode comes out. If the next episode is already there, they need far less to convince me to watch it.

Then again, I never really developed the habit of watching things on TV channels. Before there were other options, I always just grabbed a book, which did have all the options.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

I don't do dribble

For a few years now, I only watch TV series when I can see at least a full season at once. For new series, I don’t watch them at all until at least a full season is at hand.

The old way of watching an episode a week drove me nuts even when there was no other option. When I tried to keep up, as often as not, I’d miss an episode and them just never come back to it.

Perhaps this reduces “watercooler” discussions, but honestly, I’d never seen much of that anyway. I think in my adult life I can only remember one time that office talk was about some TV show (Heroes), and that was only because there was a coworker who was insanely obsessed with the show.

So Netflix’ decision is good for me. If they did it any other way, I’d just be waiting until they were all released to watch them anyway.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: I don't do dribble

For a few years now, I only watch TV series when I can see at least a full season at once. For new series, I don’t watch them at all until at least a full season is at hand.

Just wanted to support this. I havent watched dribble content in years. I also dont do sitcom “self containted” shows either. Give me substance, and more than a 5 minute story arc please! also, im patient, but impatient. I will gladly wait til the season is over to start watching it, but once I start… I wont stop til its all watched!

Canadian says:

I think it is a great idea to get them all out there at once. Not needing to cater to advertisers allowed them to film the first season as a 13 hour movie so it will be interesting to see how that translates to the screen. Also leaves me wondering how many people will sign up for a free month to check it out. Might lead to a solid fresh user base overall once new customers get to see what Netflix is all about.

Anonymous Coward says:

Fucking A! I hate waiting week after week to watch a show. I always wait till the season ends so I can kick back on the weekend and enjoy it all at once.

A lot of them seem to drag it out over very long periods of time. I could understand this if they were still making them but some of them have a full season already finished before it airs.

I mean even if they do they should make it where you can buy it in stores or online soon as it is finished.
I have almost zero reason to buy them if I already recorded them on my DVR. Now if I could get all of that ahead of TV air time it would most definitely be worth my money.

Chris Mikaitis (profile) says:

Other thoughts

I heard on a podcast (probably NPR), that they kept to the ‘hour long’ time frame since some places can’t get Netflix, but that the future (of this and other shows) will be episodes of whatever length it takes. Whether that is 20 minutes or 2 hours, Netflix gives shows the freedom to no longer need to ‘pad’ an episode to meet a specific schedule. That is the change I am most looking forward to.

Anonymous Coward says:

Personally I feel there is room for both models. I like some shows being weekly episodic content, and some shows being available for binge viewing.

Its like the walking dead video game vs other video games. Twd was a 5 part episodic video game that spaced it out over several months letting the anticipation build and everyone was talking about it, while other games let you experience the whole game as fast as you can play through it. Both are valid experiences (and no, refraining from binge viewing isn’t the same thing, its no longer a shared experience when all your friends have binge viewed and moved on).

Or another example is Stephen Kings The Green Mile. My best friend and I eagerly awaited for every new issue and talked about it before and after, but we also enjoyed reading his regular novels just as but in a different way.

Anyway, point is, both offer unique and interesting experiences and I like both models…its just now thanks to Netflix I won’t have to wait for some shows to build up a seasons worth of episodes.

Anonymous Coward says:

I’m a little torn when it comes to dribbling out TV shows. On one hand, I consume a lot of my TV in full sittings, so this is good. Also, it prevents executives from pushing their agendas and ruining a good story based on what they believe viewers want.

On the other hand, a lot of good series have been helped by regular input after each show, especially when it comes to telling writers to tone down their pet characters.

Nic (profile) says:

I used the first free month subscription just to watch that series. In case people didn’t know, the premiere is available to all on their website. I’ve only watched 5 episodes so far and I really like it.

But yes, I have to admit an episode every week creates buzz and excitement, even if it’s frustrating to wait a whole week for the next episode. Cliffhangers are somewhat of a necessary evil to grow popularity. Then again, Netflix can always prove me wrong! Who knows?

vegetaman (profile) says:

Battlestar Galactica - Blood & Chrome

BSG: Blood and Chrome was released onto youtube a week at a time. I thought that was pretty good. I feel like getting all 13 episodes in one shot is sort of like Caprica did at the end, just to burn off the episodes. You need some sort of time delay, I think, just to make people want it. A handful of people want to consume the series when it is all out all at once at the end. However, plenty of others enjoy just having a couple of shows to watch a week. But, it should be neat to see it play out.

PaulT (profile) says:

I loved the original series and the talent involved here gets me very interested. Ironically however, due to Netflix’s agreements with the legacy industries I can’t access it, although I’m sure they would make their service available to me if they could. Thankfully, VPN technology allows me to bypass those restrictions and I intend to watch it via the subscription I’m technically not allowed to pay for. I’m sure some morons here will not only refuse to recognise that said restrictions will not only encourage piracy among my fellow ex-pats, but call me a pirate because I pay more than a normal subscriber to access the service.

Richard (profile) says:

What is it with the US

That they think of old things as new – first they think Sodastream is a new idea and now they remake House of Cards. Don’t get me wrong, the original was a great series and I’m sure the US remake will be good too – but the idea isn’t new – and although Kevin Spacey is a great actor he is unlikely to match the sheer presence of Ian Richardson.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: What is it with the US

While I’m opposed to pointless remakes, I can see the promise here. US politics is very different to UK politics, and while the original is excellent, it’s also very much a Thatcher era product. A new version today with a different political slant makes a lot of sense, and I’m sure the talent involved will bring a quality product to the screen. From what I’ve heard, Spacey does a few similar things to Richardson’s character (breaking the fourth wall, etc.), but he’s not attempting to copy him, which is fine. I’m looking forward to it, and I’m afraid I might lose it if Spacey says he “couldn’t possibly comment” on something…

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“They could have launched it like one episode every 2 or 3 days for some speedy release while still maintaining the buzz.”

That would have been a massive mistake. People subscribing to Netflix are accustomed to having full season box sets to go through, and artificial windowing is a big driver toward piracy. Given that the entire point of creating the series in the first place is to drive customers to their site, it would be a really bad thing to offer a lower level of service with their own content.

“Did they release it with no restrictions? (ie: geo blocking, platform specific etc?)”

Only insofar as they offered it as part of their standard service. So, if you have a device that can normally play Netflix content and Netflix is available in your country, it wasn’t restricted. For the rest of us, VPNs take care of that. It’s annoying that they have imposed the same restrictions usually forced onto them by other content providers for their own content, but again given that the idea is to drive more regular subscriptions I can see why they haven’t opened it up to people who can’t subscribe to their normal service.

Adam (user link) says:

I hardly ever watch the garbage on tv anymore, but I did grab the series of The Event a few weeks back and watched the whole series in a day. Its was a fantastic experience, and I look forward to doing it again if I could only find something which was worth watching! Sadly The Event stopped short and I’m left unsatisfied with a premature ending 🙁 I’m willing to give this show a look over though, and glad to see the more modern media companies are finally beginning to catch up to what their viewers want to watch and how they want to watch it.

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