Whether you can’t turn away from “House of Cards,” prefer to keep up with intense documentaries like “Making a Murderer,” or simply enjoy a good comedy like “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” it’s likely that you’ve binge-watched a Netflix Original Series at some point. And it’s undoubtedly helping this streaming service differentiate itself from every other one out there. In 2015, Netflix revealed to shareholders than almost 90 percent of members have engaged in original content, and months ago announced there will be 1,000 hours of original content coming to the service this year alone. It’s clear Netflix Original Series are booming, but are they actually good TV?
A lot of the success of these shows and movies is that Netflix is pouring a ton of money into them to score the best cast and production team. If you’re a fan of Kevin Spacey, then of course you’ll be interested in a show starring him. But, it goes far beyond that. Netflix doesn’t flip a coin to decide if a show has a good storyline that viewers may enjoy — they do a ton of research on the Netflix audience to guarantee that you’ll be wanting to binge watch their next piece of content. This includes what you search for, how fast you make it through a show, or if you quit mid-season and never come back to finish.
As a fan of “House of Cards,” we’ll use it as an example. This particular show ended up being a $100 million investment and it’s definitely paid off as season five was just released this month, but the Netflix team knew that long before they started production. In an interview in 2011, Netflix’s Vice President of Corporate communications, Steve Swasey, said to Gigom: “We have a high degree of confidence in “House of Cards” based on the director, the producer and the stars.” The show’s preview clips were even different for viewers based on their likes and dislikes in television. This perfect formula was the foundation to a show Netflix’s audience couldn’t dislike.
And, there’s the exclusivity factor that parallels what made HBO so popular long ago. You can only talk about certain shows with your friends and colleagues if you are a member of that service — not everyone can watch it, which might make the shows that much more desirable. Personally, I keep a Netflix account on top of my cable because I can find shows that I can’t get anywhere else, such as “House of Cards.”
So, Netflix Original Series might not always be good TV, but they’re catered to what we, as an audience, devour in television. Whether it’s the main actors or the intriguing plotline, our viewing habits tell Netflix exactly what we want to spend our weekends watching, and Netflix seems to only be getting started.
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