Media360: Viewer control has led to greater creativity, says House Of Cards writer

Lord Dodds, author of House of Cards, addresses Media 360
Lord Dodds, author of House of Cards, addresses Media 360

Lord Michael Dobbs, the executive producer and author of House Of Cards, credited Netflix's success to the company understanding the changing market.

Delivering the keynote speech at the Media360 conference in Brighton today, Dobbs said he received the call from Hollywood at a time when the media world was transforming.

He said TV broadcasters were under "tremendous pressure" and audiences were fragmenting.

However, the Hollywood producers said they had Kevin Spacey and David Fincher on board, and were looking to run the series on Netflix.

Dobbs said: "I wasn’t too sure about that. At the time Netflix was a DVD and video rental operation with just 10 million subscribers. They said, ‘Netflix is changing, it’s looking for a new vision'.

"Netflix knew what was happening and it had the ambition to take those changes. They understood that the consumer and viewer was in charge."

Dobbs said the media world was moving from viewers being told by TV scheduling when they should watch the latest series every week to a situation where the viewer had a bigger role.

He said: "Many people expected that this was a relentless drive to the bottom. But consumers are actually very clever, they want choice, and they’re insistent about quality."

Since launching House Of Cards on Netflix three years ago the company has doubled its subscribers to 66 million.

With viewers being able to choose to watch two or three episodes in one go, Dobbs said TV producers have been able to "develop wonderful compelling characters in a way we couldn’t when the schedule was planned".

He said: "It’s not surprising that people are talking about the golden age of TV. Hollywood is no longer king like it used to be ten years ago. You now have people like Kevin Spacey producing TV for the first time in their lives because they understand TV."

This move has also forced broadcasters to raise their game, Dobbs said, resulting in shows such as ITV’s Broadchurch and Downton Abbey.

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