House of Cards' Frank Underwood is television's best baddy since JR Ewing in the original Dallas series. Baddies are nothing new to TV - or any great story (what's a protagonist without an antagonist?) - but Netflix is television for the now.
I mean that in two ways - unlike regular broadcast or cable tv Netlix is a streaming, on demand web-based platform. When the channel commisioned House of Cards it signalled that it was ready to be a game changer. The show is a big-budget series starring Kevin Spacey in the lead role as the ruthlessly driven chief whip of the Senate with his eye squarely on the Oval Office. Netlix released both the first and second series in full on day one. No waiting 13 weeks for a cliffhanger ending. It created the culural phenomenon of binge viewing. All of which is interesting. But what is really significant is that, because Netflix is streamed on the web, they can collect real-time data from viewers. No waiting for Neilsen data that is not only just a sample but also out of date by the time it is delivered. Very last century.
When House of Cards season 2 was transmitted Netflix set up a war room to monitor the event and viewer behaviour.
Netflix has 40 million customers around the world and says it knows everything about your viewing habits. Reported in The Marketplace a Netflix spokesperson says "We monitor what you watch, how often you watch things," "Does a movie have a happy ending, what’s the level of romance, what's the level of violence, is it a cerebral kind of movie or is it light and funny?" "House of Cards was obviously a big bet for Netflix," "But it was a calculated bet because we knew Netflix members like political dramas, that they like serialized dramas. That they are fans of Kevin Spacey, that they like David Fincher."
Big data is a topic exercising the minds of marketers and media owners alike. Netflix might be smaller than rival broadcasters like HBO but they have an edge by having access to high quality data in real time and in aggregate ' textured, granular... and valuable.'
Worth thinking about what shape advertising will take around the emerging capabilities of the medium.
TV3 are screening House of Cards at the moment - or you can binge with their on-demand service
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