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

By Rick Munarriz – Feb 17, 2014 at 3:00PM

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Netflix gears up for another new season of another big show.

Friday's debut of the second season of House of Cards went off without a hitch. All 13 episodes became available on Netflix (NFLX -2.44%) 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.

Rick Munarriz owns shares of Netflix. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Netflix. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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