The Netflix-produced show has received rave reviews, but when will Australians be able to legally watch House of Cards?
House of Cards stars Kevin Spacey, and is a remake of a British TV show of the same name — a look at the seedy underside of politics and the people who work in it. So far, critics have been praising the show, which debuted on Netflix on 1 February.
Because it's a Netflix production, the video-on-demand service is both the creator and distribution platform. It's allowed the company to do some interesting things, such as release the entire run of the first 13 episodes all in one go.
But it does create a conundrum for Australians (and anyone else outside of the US, Canada, Latin America, the UK, Sweden, Finland and Norway): when do we get to see this apparent masterpiece?
It's not an easy question to answer. Netflix obviously wants to maintain a tight hold on the series to encourage people to subscribe, which makes it extremely unlikely that it will sell the rights to any other video-on-demand services.
It is possible that limited releases may be made in countries that don't have Netflix yet. However, this would involve Netflix creating relationships with companies that — should Netflix decide to expand, as it often says it will — will be competitors at some point.
That leaves just one likely route for a non-Netflix distribution method: physical media. While Netflix has exclusive rights to House of Cards for the initial "publishing window", those rights do revert to production company Media Right Capital (MRC). MRC will be within its right to pursue a DVD or Blu-ray release for House of Cards, although conservatively, this might not be until the middle of 2013. Well after you've seen every spoiler-filled review, internet comment, comedian monologue and magazine article that's ever been produced about the show.
So, at the moment, if Australians want to legally watch House of Cards, they will have to wait for the production company that made it with Netflix to exercise its secondary publishing rights at some point, and then wander into a video store and buy it — after avoiding any spoilers of the show online since 1 February.
The wait is likely to be too great for some — any wait is too great for some — sending them off to seek out illegal resources over peer networks. Others explore the grey area of VPN services, which are not against the law but are against the terms of service for most IPTV providers, including Netflix.
With Netflix racing toward a future of being a true original content player, we can but hope to see a full launch of Netflix service in the not-too-distant future.