Will Netflix’s House Of Cards Change The Way We Watch Television?

Online streaming services, relatively speaking, have struggled to get off the ground in changing people’s viewing habits. When I’ve asked people why…

George Doel



Online streaming services, relatively speaking, have struggled to get off the ground in changing people’s viewing habits. When I’ve asked people why they don’t use online streaming websites such as Netflix and LoveFilm Instant, the main response is that they say they would rather watch something on a television rather than computer screen.

Whilst these services are available to watch on a television through games consoles, smart TVs, set-top media players and other internet connected devices, there is a stigma attached to them as being poor excuses for DVD alternatives, limited content and a high-monthly charge that provides little in return. Is this all about to change?

Netflix has now delved into the world of original programming and has created House of Cards, a political drama with some big names (and even bigger money) behind it. The show follows Frank Underwood (played by the brilliant Kevin Spacey) as the Democrats’ majority whip, who is getting revenge on those who betrayed him when he was snubbed a promotion to Secretary of State.

With David Fincher (Fight Club, The Social Network) as executive producer and occasional director, and Beau Willimon (The Ides of March) as writer/developer, the show was hyped for great things – and for someone who has seen the show in its entirety, it sure doesn’t disappoint. I urge all of you to go to your local DVD sto….wait no, actually you can find it in your supermark… no, um, not there, either. Maybe Amazon?

Netflix has decided to not only make the show exclusive to its monthly subscribers, but made the controversial decision to release all 13 episodes in one go on the 1st February this year. This has led to many fans of the show to “binge” on as many episodes as possible in one go. I myself have been known to get through TV series very quickly (my boxset of Breaking Bad didn’t stand a chance).

The success of House Of Cards leads me to think could this be the future of television. The BBC have already promised they will be re-releasing many more programmes on its on-demand service (iPlayer) before broadcasting on its channels in 2013, and Channel 4 have already experimented by putting season premiers/finales online on its respective service, 4oD. Could this become a trend?

For me, it’s slightly disconcerting. There is something about having a favourite TV that you have to wait a week between each cliff-hanger for your next fix. It’s that excitement that gives you a chance to discuss with friends what happened the week previous. I’m currently watching AMC’s The Walking Dead on a weekly basis rather than waiting for the whole series to come out for this exact reason. It is much more rewarding to do so.

It’s about giving the episodic format the respect it deserves. Television producers spend vast amounts of time and money on writing shows to be watched on a weekly basis and often the quality of a show lies in this mode of production. However, if someone does “binge” on a show (whether through a DVD/Blu-Ray box set or online) then you’re not getting the full experience.

House Of Cards is unquestionably brilliant and is worth the £5.99 monthly price of a Netflix subscription on its own, ignoring its (slowly growing) catalogue of other television shows and films. Will it change our television viewing practices? Possibly. With more and more networks moving into the realms of online content, could we see the television schedule becoming a thing of the past?

What do you think? Is there anything wrong with TV “binges”? What are your views on on-demand streaming? Leave your comments below.