Original programs beef up streaming video services
By Sophie Estienne, AFPNEW YORK -- The big-budget original series House of Cards launched this month on Netflix highlights the growing importance of streaming video, which is ramping up competition against traditional TV.
February 11, 2013, 12:52 am TWN
With stars including Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright, the new 13-episode series estimated by some to cost US$100 million is a sign of the clout of Netflix, which claims 30 million members in 40 countries and a large chunk of the streaming video market.
House of Cards' illustrates how Netflix is transforming into a digital/Internet only cable network, said Richard Greenfield, analyst at BTIG Research.
Analysts say these types of services will become more important as consumers receive streaming Internet directly on their television, or through adapter boxes, for watching at their convenience on demand.
This means programming from Netflix and others can compete with cable or satellite television and over-the-air broadcasts, and even with premium TV outlets like HBO and Showtime.
Netflix, which launched its first original series called Lillyhammer last year in a Norwegian-American project, is not the only streaming service to offer its own programs.
Its chief rival Hulu, which is backed by some of the largest U.S. broadcasters, has produced four original series in the past two years and has three more on the way.
And Amazon, which operates its own instant video service, has 11 projects in the works, including original comedies and children's programs.
These streaming services are trying to attract subscribers with unique content, said Michael Corty, a Morningstar analyst.
Consumers will go where they see the best value: it can be the quality of the content, or the price you pay.
Up to now, Netflix and its rivals have been competing for content from the major television and film studios. Netflix recently signed a deal with Disney for its films, while Amazon has secured rights for British-produced Downton Abbey, which has a following among U.S. viewers.