Netflix Is More Than a House of Cards, Mr. President

Friday's debut of the second season of House of Cards went off without a hitch. All 13 episodes became available on Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX  ) on Valentine's Day, but the leading video streaming service isn't resting on Francis Underwood's laurels.

Netflix announced over the weekend that the second season of Orange Is the New Black will be available on June 6. The show -- the handiwork of Weeds creators Jenji Kohan -- was another big winner introduced by the streaming platform with more than 44 million accounts worldwide last year. It didn't generate the award nominations that House of Cards rang up or create the buzz that surrounded the return of cult fave Arrested Development, but it's easily Netflix's second most magnetic show when it comes to original programming.

That isn't meant to shortchange Lilyhammer, which was Netflix's first foray into original programming and also its first to have a sophomore season. It's just an observation of the buzz that Netflix's first-run content has been generating since making this a key component of its strategy two years ago this month.

For now, the buzz rightfully belongs to House of Cards.

We're not all on the same page. Everyone who's streaming the politico-skewering serialized drama is watching at his or her own pace, and that limits the kind of shared excitement that viewers typically experience with shows that favor the traditional model of offering up weekly installments.

Even the president knows that he has to be careful, judging by a nod to Netflix on Thursday. 

Netflix can't buy this kind of publicity, and even while its "binge viewing" strategy has its shortcomings by posing promotional challenges, it's clearly not going to change anytime soon. Every single episode of the second season of Orange Is the New Black will be available on its June 6 debut. Obama's unlikely to throw Netflix another bone when that happens, but it's a safe bet that a lot of other people will. Rival streaming services haven't embraced Netflix's distribution strategy that favors instant gratification, but that doesn't mean it's wrong. 

Netflix's growing subscriber base and its status as the S&P 500's biggest gainer in 2013 both serve as strong proof that the company is on to something.

It's not just House of Cards that Obama's promoting these days
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  • Report this Comment On February 17, 2014, at 6:33 PM, apositt wrote:

    Scorecard for NFLX: 2 for 4.

    Lilyhammer: Strikes out looking.

    House of Cards: Triple

    Arrested Development: ground out to the right side; run scores

    House of Cards 2: Double, thrown out trying to stretch it to a triple. (The hurried format renders a hurried script. eg. a) A news editor hacking through the "96% of the internet that no one ever sees." b. Subway video that shows girl go down in front of the train but infers that the same video would not have shown a lone man (Frank Underwood) walk to that end of the platform during the same time frame.)

    That's three out. NFLX content honeymoon is over. PE adjustment. Hmm...

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Rick Munarriz

Rick has been writing for Motley Fool since 1995 where he's a Consumer and Tech Stocks Specialist. Yes, that's a long time. He's been an analyst for Motley Fool Rule Breakers and a portfolio lead analyst for Motley Fool Supernova since each newsletter service's inception. He earned his BBA and MBA from the University of Miami, and he now lives a block from his alma mater.

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