Netflix Enters Original Programming With “House of Cards”

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There’s a new television network vying for your attention, but you won’t find it on your broadcast television dial. It’s… Netflix?

In a surprise move, the online movie rental and streaming juggernaut will enter original programming in a big way by landing exclusive rights to the upcoming television series “House of Cards,” executive produced and directed by David Fincher and starring Kevin Spacey.

“House of Cards” is a political thriller based on the acclaimed British miniseries of the same name, and will be Fincher’s television directorial debut.

Netflix, who delivers 61% of digital video, had recently  said that it was not interested in branching into offering original programming, but reportedly beat out other interested parties, including HBO and AMC, in a bidding war for the series.

The move is seen as a major gamble for Netflix, who landed the project by offering a commitment of two seasons, or 26 episodes. Given that the price tag for such a high-end drama can be as much $4 million or more per episode, the deal is believed to be worth more than $100 million. Netflix bought it without seeing any of the show, without a pilot, just straight to series.

With this landmark move away from networks to a new Internet-derived future, Netflix posits itself as a next-generation HBO, which also began showing movies but is now known for original content.