Netflix Outbids HBO for David Fincher and Kevin Spacey's 'House of Cards'

David Fincher Kevin Spacey Split 2011
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The company, which is trying to maintain its position as the top destination for streaming premium content, has committed $100 million for 26 episodes of the political drama.

Perhaps frustrated that it hasn't been able to land HBO content to stream to its 20 million subscribers, Netflix has outbid the premium cabler for rights to the upcoming drama series House of Cards, insiders said Tuesday.

Netflix bested HBO and others by committing roughly $100 million for 26 episodes of the TV drama that stars Kevin Spacey and is directed by David Fincher.

The show is from Media Rights Capital and based on a novel and BBC miniseries about politics in the U.K., though the new version is set in the U.S.

Beau Willimon (The Ides of March) wrote the pilot and will also serve as an executive producer with Fincher, Spacey and Spacey's Trigger Street Prods. partner, Dana Brunetti

Netflix has been on a spending spree of late in order to maintain its position as the Internet's top destination for streaming premium content. Netflix, for example, struck a deal in October for streaming rights to movies from Paramount, Lionsgate and MGM that are shown on the trio's Epix channel. Netflix also is trying to renegotiate a deal with Starz that ends soon.

But purchasing original content -- at a hefty price for a mere 26 hours of content, no less -- before it ever gets an airing on TV is an unusual step for Netflix, especially considering that it already has streaming rights to about 8,300 movies and 24,000 TV episodes.

Netflix declined to comment.

Separately on Tuesday, NPD issued a report indicating that Netflix's share of movies downloaded or streamed over the Internet has reached 61%. No. 2, says NPD, is Comcast at 8%, while Apple's iTunes is further down the list at 4%.

Shares of Netflix also bucked a downward trend Tuesday on Wall Street by rising 8% to $216.49 on an upgrade from Goldman Sachs analyst Ingrid Chung, who slapped a $300 target on the stock.

Chung is the same analyst who had predicted recently that Facebook could become meaningful competition to Netflix, based on a deal it struck with Warner Bros. to stream The Dark Knight for $3 a shot.

But in her Tuesday research note, she wrote that "the demand for video streaming could be big enough to sustain multiple business models and competitors and that these models can co-exist."