As Netflix faces increased competition from other streaming services like Hulu, YouTube, and Amazon, it must find a way to distinguish itself from both its competitors and mainstream television. Their strategy for continued domination of the streaming services market so far can be summed up in two words: original programming.
Netflix’s first foray into the original programming market is Lilyhammer, a drama that stars Steven Van Zandt (of The Sopranos fame) as a former New York mobster who finds himself in Lillehammer, Norway after entering the witness protection program. Beautiful though it is, the town doesn’t provide much for a former mobster to do, and he soon returns to his old ways. The show has been a success - Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer, recently announced that there will be a second season.
Despite budget issues, Netflix also plans to release House of Cards later this year. The show, which will stream 26 episodes over 2 seasons, is an American update of a BBC political thriller from 1990. Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright, and Kate Mara star with David Fincher, director of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and The Social Network, at the helm.
Orange Is The New Black, a comedy from Weeds creator Jenji Kohan and producer Liz Friedman, is also in the pipeline. The show is based on the memoir of Piper Kerman, who wrote about her year in a women’s prison.
Famke Janssen and Bill Skaarsgard are slated to appear in Hemlock Grove, a show based on a novel by Brian McGreevy. The groundbreaking gothic horror series, which is set to stream 13 episodes in 2013, will be directed by Eli Roth.
And in what is likely one of the most anticipated television releases of all time, Netflix will be home to season four of Arrested Development, the cult favorite that was canceled by FOX in 2006.
With the possible exception of House of Cards, all of Netflix’s original series will use a single-day release plan that makes all episodes available to subscribers at the same time. Users can then watch a complete series at once or break it into smaller viewing sessions.
With this new plan, Netflix stands a good chance of keeping their lead in the streaming video industry. The question that remains for the company is whether spending money on original content means having less flexibility and budget dollars to acquire the more famous, mainstream titles from major studios that make up the core of Netflix’s business.