Did Netflix’s First Original Series Make the Cut?

Netflix_HouseofCardsPublications ranging from The Los Angeles Times to Time have given Netflix’s (NASDAQ:NFLX) first original series, “House of Cards”, largely favorable reviews.

The political drama, described by Time as Netflix’s “brassy, confident new” series, became available for streaming at 12:01 a.m. on February 1. In an effort to attract more viewers, the show’s 13 episodes were released all at once rather than in the serialized format favored by television networks. All of the episodes can also be watched by non-subscribers.

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“House of Cards” is based on a BBC miniseries of the same name and directed by Fight Club’s David Fincher. Starring Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright, the series is the story of a Southern congressman, who had expected to be made Secretary of State after helping to put the new President-elect in office, on a quest for revenge…

Based on two episodes that were released early for review, The Los Angeles Times praised the show for strong acting from its leading actors and its “exquisite cinematography,” while Time found that the writers’ use of fourth-wall-breaking monologues brought Spacey’s character Frank Underwood to life.

“Americans watch television in many ways for all sorts of reasons, and it is absurd to imagine that a system that survived the quiz show scandal, the retirement of Walter Cronkite, the explosion of niche channels and the recent reboot of “Charlie’s Angels” will fall before a single show,” wrote the Times’ television critic Mary McNamara in her review. “But just as “The Sopranos” turned HBO into a game-changer and “Mad Men” re-invented AMC, “House of Cards” makes Netflix an undisputed player in serialized drama.”

An undisputed player is just what Netflix wants to be. Its competitors, including Time Warner’s (NYSE:TWX) HBO and Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), have already jumped into creating their own original content, which has become a popular strategy for Internet-video providers. With companies like Amazon, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), and Comcast’s (NASDAQ:CMCSA) Hulu spending huge amounts of money on their streaming services, the cost of licensing exclusive content has become astronomically high. Plus, Netflix’s library of streaming content is not as well-stocked as its DVD rental library was as the company has struggled to make licensing agreements recently.

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