After a few days of rumors, Netflix (NSDQ: NFLX) has made it official-the company has purchased House of Cards, a new television series to be produced and directed by David Fincher. The company has committed to a minimum of 26 episodes; initial speculation about the price ran as high as $100 million but later reporting threw some cold water on that figure, with an executive close to the action telling the NYT the deal was likely to close for “significantly less.” Production on the show’s will begin until spring 2012, and it won’t actually be made available to Netflix subscribers until late in that year.
Netflix moving in to fund content directly is a fairly radical step, even though Sarandos played that down in an interview today with All Things Digital. Sarandos called the deal “traditional in its windowing, it’s just that Netflix owns the first window.”
The show itself is a political drama starring Kevin Spacey, an American adaptation of a British novel of the same name that explores U.K. politics at the end of the Thatcher era. The British novel focuses on a politician trying to climb up the ladder and become the next Prime Minister, and the American version will feature Spacey as a U.S. politician aiming to become president. Fincher-directed content and films starring Spacey have both done well on Netflix, Sarandos noted.
Sarandos mentions in a post on the Netflix blog about the deal that one-hour serialized dramas, as a format, have become a “very important part of the Netflix experience.” Shows like Heroes, Lost, Dexter, and Weeds have all done well. Netflix has made a point of acquiring streaming rights to as many of those shows as it can, and has had success in doing so-“with the exception of HBO,” writes Sarandos.