In what could go down as a watershed moment in the history of television distribution, Netflix is in ongoing negotiations to distribute Media Rights Capital’s drama series House of Cards. Starring Kevin Spacey (who also acts as an executive producer), the series’ pilot will be directed by David Fincher (The Social Network) who is an exec. producer on the show as well. Per Deadline, Netflix outbid other potential suitors such as HBO and AMC by offering the series an unheard of two season (26 episode) commitment.
As that report points out, when taking into consideration House of Cards‘ hefty per episode budget of $4-$6 million as well as the marketing efforts involved in launching a series of its magnitude, Netflix is believed to have committed over $100 million to what would it be its first delve into the original programming market. For more on the deal and the series itself, hit the jump.
As we described a few weeks ago, House of Cards is based on a British novel by Michael Dobbs that has already undergone the television adaptation treatment in Britain in the form of a miniseries. While Fincher’s first foray into television directing will move House of Cards out of its native Britain and into the United States, its pilot (penned by Beau Willimon of The Ides of March) will retain the political-thriller approach found in the original iteration.
For Netflix’s part, the move into original programming may come as a natural progression for the online streaming giant that currently enjoys a majority share (around 61% according to the Deadline report) in its native market. Nevertheless, the looming prospect of seeing its soon-to-expire television and film licensing fees increase by “at least a half billion dollars” (courtesy of TheWrap) may also be a catalyst for the streaming giant as it attempts to find new revenue sources to offset the increased expenditures that are inevitably headed its way. Additionally, when you take into account Amazon’s introduction of an online streaming model as well as Warner Bros. streaming venture with Facebook, it seems pretty clear that Netflix is attempting to stay one (or more than $100 million) steps ahead of its pending competition.
There is currently no word on whether Netflix is planning on offering House of Cards in an instant stream, DVD mailer, and/or a live airing capacity. Regardless, given the extreme amount of talent behind it as well as its place as Netflix’s first original program, you can bet I’ll (and millions of others, as well) will be watching.