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February 14, 2014

Everything Streamed is New Again

Pondering how the upsurge in streaming affects viewer habits and expectations – as well as how a series is produced – House of Cards creator Beau Willimon celebrates the 1-year anniversary of his show's transformative roll-out on Netflix. 

Juliana J. Bolden
  • Kevin Spacey (Francis Underwood), Robin Wright (Claire Underwood) and Michael Kelly (Doug Stamper) of House of Cards.

    Courtesy of Netflix

 Funny how time flies when you're changing entertainment's status quo.

It's been a year since Netflix first hit the internet with all 13 episodes of acclaimed series House of Cards, notes Spencer Kornhauber of The Atlantic. And it is definitely "worth marveling" how quickly viewers have embraced the notion of having all episodes of a new TV season to watch at their own pace – on whatever screen they wish.

Kornhauber delved deep into this topic during an extensive conversation with House of Cards creator Beau Willimon. The two also discussed how streaming's surge affects how shows are created.  

Willimon, who began his career as a playwright and later garnered an Oscar nomination for his work on Ides of March, observed that the emerging streams-on-tap paradigm has a lot in common with television's traditional syndication model:  

"Think about syndication," he said. "It’s what drove a lot of television making prior to cable and Netflix and all of the things that we’re seeing now: Can it exist in a syndicated format?"

Once a series crosses this threshold, networks routinely air syndicated programs out of order. "So in more episodic shows," Willimon explains, "you don’t necessarily have tons of character development over time. It’s tried and true. You’re familiar with the characters and what they do and how they act and you can watch it out of order."

"I can watch any episode of Cheers from any season and enjoy it," he continued. "Yes there was story development over time, but in a glacial way that works well for comedy because you have these archetypes that you become familiar with and you want to see over and over again—it’s the place where everybody knows your name, right?"

"Now that syndication is not the only way for a show to live on, a company like Netflix can say, 'This is a show I want to live on on our website because there are subscribers or people who could be subscribers who want a show like this.'"

This changes the game completely, Willimon said: "It means the type of shows being made expand."

And everything streamed is new again.

Read the full story here

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