On Friday Netflix will launch “House of Cards,” a new original series that can be watched in one sitting: All 13 episodes will be available for immediate viewing on the company’s Web site. Releasing all the episodes at the same time changes how the story is told, says Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos: “[It] assumes you know what’s happening all the time, whereas television has to assume that a big chunk of the audience is always just tuning in.” Series producer Beau Willimon says that in the future episodes may not even be necessary: “You might just get eight straight hours…and you decide where to pause.”
What’s the Big Idea?
Thanks to the Internet, DVRs, and box sets, binge-watching — consuming an entire series at once — is becoming increasingly common, and the industry is slowly taking advantage of it. This includes reevaluating viewer patterns (as recorded by Nielsen and similar companies) and advertising metrics. Naturally, some of the more gun-shy in Hollywood are skeptical, but Damon Lindelof, whose show “Lost” still enjoys a healthy viewership three years after its network run, says it’s nice to know that “ultimately the way your work is going to be viewed is more like reading a novel.”