“We never thought we’d operate without competition. We’re surprised it’s taken this long,” Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos told investors today at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Media, Communications and Entertainment Conference. And he says he’s not concerned after the e-retail power doubled its video streaming library by cutting a deal with EPIX. That became possible after the end of August when terms giving Netflix exclusive Internet rights to the channel expired. “People don’t watch [EPIX's movies and shows] more because they’re exclusive,” Sarandos says. “Over time it proved to be not differentiated enough” from other programming. What’s more, since EPIX shows run on pay TV before they hit the Internet, the channel “wasn’t that exclusive.” READ MORE »
Netflix shares rose 13% today after a the market took yesterday off due to the July 4 holiday, closing at $81.72 thanks to the company’s biggest single-day gain since late January. The surge comes a couple of …
EXCLUSIVE: Michel Gill and Sandrine Holt (Underworld: Awakening) have been added to the cast of David Fincher’s Netflix drama series …
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings had the best line of the day at the UBS Annual Global Media and Communications Conference. Told that last year his company was the object of ”mystique, envy and fear” at the confab, Hastings said: ”Now it’s just pity.” Well, yes — considering that his company’s stock has fallen 77% since mid-July, when Netflix boosted prices by 60% for consumers who wanted to continue to receive DVDs and stream videos. ”We had done so many difficult things that we became overconfident,” Hastings says. “Our big obsession for the year was, ‘Let’s not live and die by DVD.’ ” But the change ”turned out to be a little too fast. … We berate ourselves tremendously for that lack of insight.” But his appearance at the UBS gathering was designed to demonstrate that Netflix is back on track — and that its shares are worth buying again. For investors who believe that Web video is going to soar, ”we’re the leading play on that thesis. … As long as we don’t shoot ourselves in the foot anymore, it’s a great opportunity.” He adds that “there’s no effective competitor for exactly what we do.”
Hastings predicted that within the next 10 years about half of all TV viewing will come via the Internet. He says that TV manufacturers ”want you to live in their device.” While about a third of TV sets sold today can connect directly to the Internet, “in a few years most of the TVs sold will be smart TVs. … It’s a phenomenal revolution.” The biggest loser will be broadcast TV, he says. “It’ll be declining like land-line telephony. … To some degree we’ll look at broadcast in 20 years as being like (telephone) party lines.” And as broadband providers include more fiber optic lines in their networks, they’ll be able to transmit Internet video at speeds of 1 gigabit per second. “Peak Netflix viewing on a Saturday night could still fit through one fiber optic (line),” he says. “A gigabit is a tiny fraction of what’s possible over fiber optic.” Hastings says that providers shouldn’t have to raise prices, or resort to usage-based pricing, to handle all of that Internet video traffic — although they might try to do so. ”It would be unfortunate because it’s not based on the costs,” which are fixed, he says. Consumers also might balk. ”Time Warner Cable tried it a couple of years ago in Texas and backed down. … I doubt it will happen.”
Sony Pictures Television has come aboard as a distribution partner on House Of Cards, the Kevin Spacey-starring political drama series that Netflix landed in a high-profile deal back in March. Beau Willimon (The Ides Of March) wrote the pilot, …
Netflix CFO David Wells acknowledged today that “we’re a more humble team” following the consumer and investor backlash from a series of PR blunders. The company plans to ”step back and look at all options and what we’ll do going forward” to satisfy consumers who were angered in July when the company said it would split its video streaming and DVD rental services — increasing prices by 60% for those who wanted to continue to have both. Lowering the price doesn’t seem to be on the table. That’s “a little bit like kicking the can down the road,” Wells said at the Goldman Sachs Communicopia Conference. “I don’t think it’s going to win back the customers we lost.” Instead, Netflix likely will secure more content and “repair that trust with the consumer over time.” Defections spiked shortly after the announcement, “but it went to zero shortly afterward.” The recent decision to rebrand the DVD business as Qwikster ”introduced additional volatility into the consumer picture.” But the decision to have Qwikster also rent video games is “a signal that we’re continuing to invest and not abandon that consumer.”
At its upfront presentation in New York this evening, top-rated USA Network is set to unveil a development slate that underscores its commitment to get into the half-hour comedy business with five comedies in the works, including one starring Nathan Lane, one produced by Walter Parkes and Laurie Macdonald and one with former American Idol judge Kara DioGuardi on board as consulting producer. While launching original half-hour series has been something newly minted USA co-presidents Jeff Wachtel and Chris McCumber had been looking to do for a while, now the two are finally making the push with the goal to have half-hour series on the air by the 2013 launch of the network’s high-profile off-network acquisition Modern Family. As there is no rush, Wachtel said half-hour development will be a “slower process” as “we have to find the right show.” An area where the network is putting a lot of pressure is unscripted, especially after the successful recent launch of WWE Tough Enough. USA is looking to unspool its first follow-up reality series later this year. As for the half-hour comedy projects, while the network launched its hourlong series brand with projects in turnaround, including Monk and The Dead Zone, more than half of the half-hour shows on the slate are “purely original development,” Wachtel said. Exceptions include the Nathan Lane starrer On We Go, which was a spec, and Fox 21′s We the Jury, which was developed elsewhere. Meanwhile, the hourlong projects on USA’s development slate, which hail from such producers as Mark Gordon, Doug Liman and Dave Bartis, feature characters that are “more provocative” than the leads on the network’s current series, McCumber said.
Additionally, USA is returning to the limited series genre with The Enclave, a project from writers Andrea and Maria Jacquemetton (Mad Men), which Boys Don’t Cry helmer Kimberly Peirce is in negotiations to direct. USA had success with all three of its previous limited-series efforts — Traffic, The 4400 and The Starter Wife — the last two also spawning series. “It’s a way to broaden the feel and reach of the network,” McCumber said. USA also will announce a new hourlong Hollywood special with Vanity Fair West Coast editor Krista Smith interviewing three celebrities. While it has been ordered as a one-off, the network is open to doing more if the special is successful. USA has been looking to get into the daily talk show arena, and the Smith special is part of those efforts. Here is a list of USA’s scripted series now in development:
Netflix just announced that it has acquired House of Cards, a political thriller drama series from executive producer/director David Fincher starring Kevin Spacey, which will be distributed exclusively via the company’s Internet subscription service. This marks Netflix’s first foray into original programming.
Netflix, which has more than 20 million subscribers at the moment, has committed to 26 episodes of the drama, which is being produced by Media Rights Capital. Its premiere is scheduled for almost two years from now, in late 2012. Over the next year, the show will work on the 13 scripts for its first season. Fincher, who is now busy directing The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, will direct the first episode of House of Cards next spring. That episode will then be evaluated like a pilot, and adjustments will be made if needed before production on the remaining episodes commences. In the next 3-6 months, MRC is expected to assemble a team to support the big production. More from Netflix’s release:
A satirical tale of power, corruption and lies, “House of Cards” is based on the book and acclaimed BBC mini-series of the same name. “The gripping, serialized one hour drama has become a very important part of the Netflix experience,” said Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos. “David Fincher’s unique vision, the indelible performances of Kevin Spacey and the original version of “House of Cards,” all have a big following among our members, giving the series a very good chance of becoming a fan favorite.”