For years we’ve been talking about “convergence” as if it were some sort of holy prophesy that would change the world if and when it finally came to pass.
And now it’s happened. Netflix, who already eats up as much as 30% of network bandwidth in the US by streaming movies to our TV sets, is going to produce an original series. Or more accurately, a remake of an original series, House of Cards, that was quite popular in the UK. They’ve lined up Kevin Spacey to star and David “The Social Network” Fincher to direct. And they’re going to be streaming it over the internet.
Specific details have yet to be announced, but make no mistake: this is the Convergence. It’s TV over the internet, when and where you want it – everywhere from your iPhone to your 55 inch HDTV.
In terms of details, I’ll take the leap and posit that the show will be available at a set time each week, with viewers then having the ability to stream it at any time they want. I’ll go one step farther and guess that Netflix will also ignore the time zone issue, so that if the show first debuts at 9 PM EST, people in LA are going be be able to see it at 6 PM, PST. So the first thing to watch will be the impact of that sort of time-shifting on ratings and tune-in.
It will also be interesting to see how Netflix promotes House of Cards. Will it be an online promotion only, with banners on Netflix and other sites or will they run promos on traditional broadcast networks along with outdoor, radio and print?
The other interesting thing to watch is tune-in time: what percentage of viewers will watch the show at the exact moment of release, how many will tune in within the first hour and how many will tune in days later and/or watch several episodes at once.
One thing seems pretty certain though: whether the series succeeds or flops, it won’t be the last time we'll be seeing something like this.