Netflix are changing the face of TV.
How do you stop piracy? Do you offer up exclusive content, only available on physical purchases? Do you appeal to the box-set culture, or do you try and exert limitations that make it impossible? All these have been tried, but none of these have worked, and there’s one simple reason: you can’t stop piracy.
Spacey stars in the online-only House of Cards
But what you can do is make it pointless. With low-costing, subscription-free on-demand streaming services becoming ever-popular – Netflix being the golden child of a generation – watching content when it suits you is no longer illegal, and no longer does it cost loads of money.
So it’s no real surprise, really, that the traditional TV studio bosses are twiddling their thumbs at boardroom meetings, looking embarrassed and trying to figure out why House of Cards has made history by becoming the first online only show to be nominated for an Emmy. The production values haven’t changed; the quality of the actor’s hasn’t diminished – it’s the distribution that’s evolving.
It probably won’t win – the political thriller starring Kevin Spacey, available at your binging pleasure, is up against Downton Abbey, Mad Men, Game of Thrones and Homeland, winner of the award in 2012. The category, by the way, is Best Drama – the big one.
Taylor Schilling at the Orange is The New Black premiere
Netflix’s Arrested Development pushed the Emmy count to four for the streaming service founded in 1997, with Jason Bateman in line for the best actor nod, while the cult comedy bagged music and picture editing recognitions, too. The nominations, announced by Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul and this year’s host, Neil Patrick Harris, signal a change in the way we watch TV.
The only reason we waited a week to watch The Sopranos was because it was only on every week. And by the time we’d got our hands on the over-priced boxset, we were on our second watch. Now, with the advent of House of Cards, and the impressive looking Orange is The New Black, Netflix are handing the initiative to us, the audience, and letting us control how we watch drama for the first time.
Bateman and Amanda Anka at the premiere of Arrested Development season four
Of course, none of this would have worked if the quality of the programming weren’t so high. House of Cards wasn’t handed a nomination for the novelty of it’s online quality, and with Orange is The New Black and Arrested Development garnering decent figures, it won’t be long before we see the new Mad Men, Breaking Bad or Dexter appear as an online only show. We are the binging generation.