Netflix, House of Cards, and Libraries

April 7, 2011
Posted in: Board Member Posts

A couple weeks ago, I saw a post on TechCrunchNetflix Original Content Is Much More Than A Strategy Shift — It Could Shift An Industry. It’s definitely an interesting read.

So – what’s Netflix doing, exactly? From the Netflix blog:

“We’re delighted to tell you that in late 2012 Netflix will be bringing to our members in the U.S. and Canada exclusively “House of Cards,” the much-anticipated television series and political thriller from Executive Producer David Fincher and starring Kevin Spacey. We’ve committed to at least 26 episodes of the serialized drama…”

Did you see that single word “exclusive?” Wow. Yes, that is a bit of an industry game-changer.

OK David … that’s a game changer for the cable tv industry. But how does it affect libraries?

Glad you asked! Let’s take that scenario and play it out just a little bit. What if … what if “exclusive” means no DVDs? The cable/TV/movie industry is definitely going down that path already. DVDs have had a good run, but that industry will be drying up, just  like the video cassette industry did awhile back.

What’s a “no DVD” model leave us libraries with to buy and then loan out to our patrons? Nothing. Nada. Squat.

Unless we do some hard work on pricing and lending models. In the next few years (sooner, not later please) we need to figure out things like this:

  • How can we get direct institutional access and pricing models to media companies like Netflix, Amazon, Hulu+, or Apple’s iTunes?
  • What type of pricing model would libraries pursue? Netflix probably won’t go for the $8 a month model they use for individuals.
  • Can libraries handle new pricing models like pay-per-view?

I think we need to figure this stuff out, before our own “House of Cards” is knocked down, leaving us with squat.

What am I missing? What other issues need to be addressed here?

David Lee King, Board Member. pic by canonsnapper

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