House of Cards and Netflix's distribution strategy: where will the Social TV go?

Written on 06 March 2013
By: Emanuela Zaccone

As pointed out by Brandon Carter on TechCrunch, “in many ways, House of Cards may be a test to see just how engaged the Netflix audience is. As their content offering grows and more subscribers come to their platform, their insight will deepen and they may yet find an optimal solution to deliver their content”.


House of Cards is a Netflix series based on BBC’s one and entirely released on February 1st, 2013. No suspense, no wait, no additional subscription required.

Netflix also allowed an autoplay feature to let subscribers automatically see one episode after another.


While I am really fascinated by the series and by the distribution choice – I totally agree with Carter when he says that this strategy will give a lot of useful information about Netflix’s users (information that can be transformed into market strategies) –, I have a question in my mind since I started viewing the series: where is the Social Tv component?

Of course, it is possible to build a product without thinking about a second screen strategy, but we are talking about something really expensive here (David Fincher as director and Kevin Spacey as leading character: what do you think?).

Real time comments were not the main aim of Netflix’s marketing strategy. This is actually logical: if every show is on demand, people will consume the series when they want. There is no contemporary consumption but a casual one.

People can’t live-tweet about the show.

Apparently. And here comes indeed the other side of the coin: social conversations can be a driver to watch the series faster and a word-of-mouth booster.

I am the first person who tries not to be spoiled, still I run to complete the series and go back and comment it with my friends on Twitter.
Moreover, I watch again some episodes to better focus themes and quotes.

And what about the long tail of social interaction?
Look at this tweet, who refers to a pivotal element in one of the first episodes’ plot (don’t worry, I won’t spoil it for you):

I hope Netflix is collecting and analyzing all these Social data, maybe the best, spontaneous collection of feedback they could have. They just need to mix it with data (secret, at the moment) about House of Cards consumption and they will have available an interesting set of information.

Live tweeting or commenting is not required to set up a Social Tv strategy, but it can be part of one: changing the distribution strategy will affect second screen engagement too? I don’t think so.

There is more to see than the Netflix’s distribution option: user engagement can be way more interesting to be observed.

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