Disregarding risk, Netflix dives into original content with 'House of Cards'

Netflix officially has moved into the original content business, confirming rumors last week it was in exclusive talks to acquire House of Cards, a remake of a 1990s British political miniseries by the same name.

The company said it has signed a deal, which some estimates place as high as $100 million, for at least 26 episodes of the serialized drama starring Hollywood A-lister Kevin Spacey. The series, which hasn't even produced a pilot episode yeat, is scheduled to air in late 2012, Netflix said, and lists David Fincher--of The Social Network fame--as executive producer.

House of Cards is unique to Netflix as it's the first exclusive TV series to originate on the movie and TV episode distribution service, which more typically licenses TV shows the season after they run on a broadcast network or cable channel.

"We've found the gripping, serialized one-hour drama, such as Heroes, Lost,  Dexter and Weeds, has become a very important part of the Netflix experience and over the years, we've been able to add these shows from many different channels, with the notable exception of HBO," said Ted Sarandos, chief content officer of Netflix. "With David Fincher's unique vision, the incredible acting skills of Oscar winner Kevin Spacey, and a great and timeless story of power, corruption and lies, we think "House of Cards" will become a big hit among Netflix members and thus, represents a manageable risk."

And, a risk it is. With no pilot to gauge viewer interest, the millions the company is laying out for the rights to the series could be for naught if viewers turn up their nose at the program.

The producer of House of Cards, Media Right Capital, will retain rights to the series for sale to networks and overseas after it appears on Netflix.

For more:
- see this blog post
- see the L.A. Times article

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