Netflix will soon release its brand new TV series House of Cards. And it won’t just be released online only, it will also be released in one go. It’s the beginning of a brave new world for TV – will you miss the old one?
House of Cards, starring Kevin Spacey and based on the BBC classic of the same name, is a new 13-episode series launching in February.
It’s high-brow, it’s serious (it’s directed and produced by David Fincher, no less), but it’s not made by HBO, the BBC, or some other established name. It’s made by Netflix, the company behind the online film and TV streaming service that costs £5.99 a month. And, unlike a normal TV series, it won’t be released piece-by-piece on a schedule, but all in one go. This is the future of TV.
It’s only natural –
It’s a natural next step, really. Ever since the likes of Sky let you record programs and watch them later, we’ve been setting the TV-viewing agenda. Research by Gfk suggests that half of 18-49 year olds watching TV in the 8-9pm primetime slot last year, actually watched a recorded program. That’s up from 16% in 2008. The same research shows the number watching live primetime TV dropped from 83% to 64% in the same period. Unsurprisingly, the younger the person, the more extreme the figures become.
BBC’s iPlayer, meanwhile, goes from strength to strength. iPlayer use grew 28% from 2011 to 2012. And with Sky making the shift to on-demand and download services – as evidenced by Now TV from Sky and its polarising new Sky Go Extra service – the TV broadcasters are reacting to our habits.
All of which leads me to the conclusion that the TV schedule is, if not dying, in terminal decline. Whatever will happen to the Radio Times?
There’s no need to be nostalgic
Sometimes such developments feel forced upon us, unwelcome and cumbersome. Not this. It’s merely a reflection of what we want. I choose when to read a book, or watch a DVD, or go for a walk – why shouldn’t I decide when to watch TV?
There are exceptions, of course. Sport and live events (eg Strictly Come Dancing) will never cease to be important – not least as social networking gives them a new, interactive dimension. Eastenders and Corrie will probably still be going out at the same time, same place after the oft-promised apocalypse (Hollywood said so, so it must be true) finally arrives. But slowly and surely, the TV schedule will fade into insignificance. I think this is great news – do you?