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Did Netflix Lose The Gamble On 'Cards?'
By Swanni

Washington, D.C. (February 5, 2013) - Only two percent of Netflix's streaming customers watched the first episode of its new, highly-publicized original drama, House of Cards, according to Procera, which measures Internet use among cable and telco services.

Netflix refuses to reveal its own show ratings, but if the
Procera numbers are true, it means that only about 540,000 Netflix streaming subscribers watched the first episode. (Netflix has 27 million streaming subs so two percent would come to 540,000.)

At this point, it's dicey to evaluate the success -- or lack their of -- of the show's debut. (Netflix added all 13 House of Cards episodes to its library last Friday.) But if we compare the Procera numbers to HBO, which has around 30 million subscribers (close to Netflix's 27 million), House of Cards would have to be considered a ratings disappointment thus far.

Any new HBO show that draws fewer than one million subscribers for its debut is regarded as a ratings disappointment, although the network will often keep the show afloat if it receives widespread critical praise.

One could argue, however, that comparing Netflix to HBO is comparing apples to oranges. HBO shows debut in specific time slots while House of Cards was simply added to the Netflix library on Friday and subscribers could watch it at any time.

But the small number of Netflix subscribers who have chosen to watch it has to be considered a disappointment to Netflix executives who have committed $100 million to two seasons of House of Cards. Plus, Netflix is betting heavily that its original programming will distinguish itself from other streaming services and possibly carve away viewers from traditional premium channels such as HBO.

The online video service also spent an enormous amount of money on promoting House of Cards and the show was largely feted by an adoring press corps who lavished praise in particular for show star Kevin Spacey who plays a ruthless politician in Washington, D.C.

On the plus side for Netflix, the Procera stats show that many people who did watch the first episode of House of Cards watched subsequent episodes as well. In fact, 1.3 percent of its total streaming sub base watched episode two.

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