Will Net Neutrality Strengthen Netflix’s “House of Cards?”

What's harder than beating Comcast and Verizon? Keeping the program quality coming

(AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

(WTNH)  If it were ever possible for a company to be in a collective good mood, right now it has to be Netflix. Just as the streaming giant’s third season of its groundbreaking drama “House of Cards” was put on line, the Federal Communications Commission yesterday voted to uphold net neutrality.

Quickie definition of net neutrality, via the website Vox: “Network neutrality is the idea that internet service providers (ISPs), including cable companies like Comcast, and wireless providers like Verizon should treat all internet traffic equally. It says your ISP shouldn’t be allowed to block or degrade access to certain websites or services, nor should it be allowed to set aside a ‘fast lane’ that allows content favored by the ISP to load more quickly than the rest.”

So no content provider benefits more from an “open” internet than Netflix, which accounts for more than a third of all streaming usage during primetime.  The big ISPs and wireless providers will appeal the FCC decision with everything they’ve got after it becomes official.  But for now, Netflix is in the proverbial catbird seat.

Which brings us back to “House of Cards.”  And “Narcos” and “Sense8.” (Those are new dramas Netflix is producing). And “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” and “Grace and Frankie,” (two new Netflix sitcoms now in the pipeline). Also original feature films and a lineup of children’s programming, all from the company that just a few years ago was offering up stale streaming movies that you probably didn’t care in the least about seeing.

But industry watchers, not to mention Netflix shareholders, will be watching closely to see how the new season of “House of Cards” fares with viewers starting this weekend.  If it’s being binge-watched so much there’s no traffic on I-95, that’s a big W for the big N.  But if viewers lose interest — and “House of Cards” definitely lost some critical steam during season two — then the Netflix plans to become your all-cable-channels-in-one service will look more like…let’s say it together…a house of cards.  With net neutrality settled for the time being, Netflix now just has to do what all studios and networks have to try and do: keep turning out high-quality shows.  Something that’s even more difficult than understanding net neutrality.

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