The audience for Netflix’s new Kevin Spacey drama series “House of Cards” could rival the viewership of some dramas on premium cable networks — but we can’t be sure, TheWrap reports. That’s because the streaming service is keeping its numbers to itself.
“Netflix isn’t releasing any numbers, and has no immediate plans to,” the piece reports. “So we’re relying on some clever analysis from the broadband firm Procera, which monitored some of the country’s largest cable and DSL networks on Saturday to extrapolate that between 1.5 million and 2.7 million people watched one or more episodes.”
Netflix would not comment for the story, TheWrap notes.
“Why won’t Netflix share its actual numbers? Precisely to avoid articles like this one, which — with solid numbers — might gauge Netflix’s early success against that of broadcast and cable networks,” the story adds. “With that apples-to-apples comparison, we could tell you with some degree of certainly who should be worried about Netflix’s huge gamble on the Kevin Spacey-David Fincher political saga: Broadcasters? HBO? Showtime?”
The secrecy surrounding the Netflix numbers might ratchet up the fear factor for TV executives, according to TheWrap.
“The Internet has wounded or killed many brick-and-mortal entertainment outlets — music stores, book stores, movie theaters — because it can provide an entertainment experience that doesn’t require consumers to leave home,” the story notes. We think TheWrap may have meant “brick-and-mortar,” but as e-commerce has taken a toll on traditional businesses, the term “brick-and-mortal” has been creeping into the lexicon — and even if it originated as a typo, it may be more descriptive than the original term.
TheWrap makes the case that, as digital platforms have advanced, “Television has fared better than other media, in part because it is arguably as convenient as the Internet — and had a half-century head start on creating entertainment. TV and the Internet are closely interwoven, with networks and studios providing previously aired shows for services like Netflix.”
The report notes: “Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes brushed off attempts to pit Netflix against his company’s HBO in an earnings call Wednesday. He noted that many Warner Bros. shows are available to Netflix subscribers — even as he stressed that his company is far ahead of Netflix in creating originals.”
Bewkes made the point that HBO has 114 million subscribers — almost four times Netflix’s total. Noting HBO’s 25 years of offering original shows, he added: "It takes a while to get it up to scale." [TVWeek note: HBO has 114 million subs worldwide. In the U.S. it has about 30 millions subs. In the U.S. Netflix has about 27 million subs to its streaming service.]
Still, “House of Cards” represents something new. “The video-on-demand service is pouring millions of dollars into a high-quality show that isn’t actually on TV,” TheWrap reports. “It is also offering all 13 episodes of the first season at once, like chapters in a book or songs in an album, instead of demanding that viewers tune in at a certain time.”
So why is Netflix holding the viewership for “Cards” close to its vest? “One advantage of not sharing its viewership is that Netflix gets to give ‘House of Cards’ time to thrive before networks or ratings-obsessed reporters can dismiss it,” the piece reports.