'House of Cards' Had a 'Gentle Impact' on Netflix Sub Growth

"House of Cards"
"House of Cards"
 Netflix

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said Monday that the highly touted original show House of Cards had only a "gentle impact" on subscriber growth during the most recent quarter and, in fact, Hemlock Grove, an original series that was less hyped, earned a bigger global audience its first weekend than did House of Cards.

Earlier Monday, Netflix said that it added 2.03 million domestic streaming subscribers in the first quarter, up from 1.74 million a year earlier. Netflix ended the quarter with 29.2 million domestic streamers, making it a bigger TV "network" than HBO in the U.S.

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Hastings said he saw no spike in sub growth just before or after House of Cards debuted exclusively on Netflix but instead saw a "gentle impact," and that he suspects that will be the trend surrounding debuts of other original shows. That said, he guesses that Arrested Development will be an "absolutely spectacular phenomenon" when original episodes hit Netflix next month, given the show has a passionate and built-in audience.

Hastings made the remarks during a conference call with Wall Street analysts Monday.

Netflix launched 13 episodes of House of Cards, a political thriller, on Feb. 1 and 13 episodes of Hemlock Grove, a horror thriller, on April 19. It launches 15 episodes of Arrested Development on May 26 and a second season of Lilyhammer later in the year.

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Other original shows Netflix has in the works include Orange Is the New Black, a prison dramedy; Turbo F.A.S.T., a kids show in collaboration with DreamWorks Animation; and Sense8, from the Wachowskis.

Hastings said another season of House of Cards will be added to the Netflix streaming service and that there are no plans to dial down its pursuit of original programming.

Hastings and CFO David Wells also said Amazon.com and Hulu are driving the cost of licensing higher as they become more aggressive bidders for streaming content.

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