Blog: Netflix’s “House of Cards” may be a game changer for television

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Cable television networks like Showtime and HBO did well at the Emmys this year. HBO had five shows nominated in the Best Drama Series and Best Comedy Series categories, and Showtime’s “Homeland” won Best Drama Series, as well as Lead Actress and Lead Actor in the same category.

This image released by Netflix shows Kevin Spacey, left, director Joel Schumacher, center, and Nathan Darrow during the filming of the Netflix original series “House of Cards.” The new original series arrived in one big helping — all 13 episodes of its first season — on the subscription streaming service on Friday, Feb. 1, 2013, for viewers to enjoy, at their leisure, in the weeks, months or even years to come. (AP Photo/Netflix, Melinda Sue Gordon)

Shows on networks like HBO, Showtime and AMC (“Girls,” “Homeland,” “The Walking Dead,” “Breaking Bad” and “Game of Thrones,” to name a few) seem to have exploded in popularity over the past decade in spite of (or maybe because of) their intense and explicit content.

However, Netflix is geared up to compete in the 2013 Emmys by producing two television series this year: Season four of “Arrested Development” and the original series “House of Cards.”

The return of “Arrested Development,” which previously aired on Fox, has been highly anticipated, but it doesn’t seem like anyone expected “House of Cards” to be the hit series that it is. According to Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos, “House of Cards” is “the most watched thing on Netflix in every country we operate in.”

The series has received praise from reviewers including Wired Magazine’s Ryan Carlson, who said:

This show is the modern day “Game of Thrones” filled with shifting political alliances, enemies, and adult situations. It has conflict within the national leadership, favors (both political and otherwise), aspirations for power, and an entire cast of anti-heroes that you can’t help but secretly cheer for.

An interesting comparison because, like shows on HBO, Netflix is not held to the same content standard that broadcast television is, and “House of Cards” does not lack in explicit content.

If this is the direction popular television is heading, it begs the question: will television regulated for content begin to fade?

Netflix’s success with “House of Cards” and its anticipated success with “Arrested Development” has made the idea of successful television on non-traditional outlets like Netflix, Hulu and YouTube an actual possibility, according to TV Guide.

With more and more outlets where writers don’t have to censor themselves, will the middle ground between TV for toddlers and HBO start to disappear?

Perhaps not. After all, ABC’s “Modern Family” won Best Comedy Series this year, and it was competing with three HBO shows.

But conservative “Arrested Development” fans may want to consider with whom they watch the new season. Netflix will undoubtedly let more language and nudity slide than did Fox.

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