| Wednesday April 23rd 2014

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How a Netflix original-series deal could change TV making


Netflix: Behind the scenesDear Netflix,

Please acquire Arrested Development and make new episodes.

Sincerely,
Everyone

The entertainment-biz press, led by a report in Deadline.com, has the news this morning that Netflix may be about to acquire a high-profile original drama—political thriller House of Cards from David Fincher and Kevin Spacey—by outbidding the likes of HBO. Does this mean, if the deal pans out, that Netflix wants to become a TV network?

Actually, it could mean something bigger: the beginning, albeit the very beginning, of a much-theorized about move to a business model in which TV networks are optional.

Why do you watch TV networks at all? You don’t go to the movie listings and say, “Gee, I wonder what Paramount has showing this week!”—you just look for a movie. The reason for TV’s configuration was, first, technical and practical. A network controlled the means of distribution: it had the hardware and the system of affiliates that were necessary to literally beam a program from a tape somewhere into your living room.


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