Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) is in exclusive talks to acquire U.S. distribution rights to a proposed political drama series starring Kevin Spacey. The deal for the original series--which would be a first for the subscription service--could cost it as much as $100 million, and had pitted the company against heavyweights like Time Warner's (NYSE:TWX) HBO, which, sources say, has dropped out of the running.
The deal for the 26-episode House of Cards--a remake of a BBC series by the same name--would put Netflix on the same plane as premium cable channels that have parlayed original content into a place in America's living rooms.
Production company Media Rights Capital, with investors including Goldman Sachs and WPP, is auctioning the series, which will be directed by The Social Network's David Fincher.
For the past several months, as Netflix's streaming business has rapidly grown to more than 20 million subscribers, Netflix has been facing dire warnings from some content producers-like Time Warner and Liberty Mutual's Starz-- that it would pay much higher rates for new content as deals come up for renewal. But the company has pushed forward, signing contracts with Disney and more recently with CBS for programming to stream to subscribers as it continues to move away from its DVD-by-mail roots. The company also has signed a deal with the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. that makes some CBC content available on Netflix the day after it airs in Canada, something Netflix has looked for in the U.S. but has yet to land.
The negotiations with MRC for this original content, however, may be sending a message to providers that there's plenty of content to be had and that Netflix isn't afraid to spend to get it.
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HBO: Netflix would have to charge $20 to stream our content. Yawn