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Netflix Taking on HBO With Original Programing?

Rumor has it that Netflix, no longer content as a mere outlet for streaming video, is making a serious run at becoming a producer and distributor of original content. The company previously helped bankroll and distribute independent features through its Red Envelope Entertainment division (including the stellar and depressing 'Born into Brothels'). But the division has been largely quiet since 2008, when it closed up shop in an apparent effort to avoid competing with the studios with which it was attempting to strike content deals. But since then, the company has gone from popular DVD rental service with legitimate competitors to practically peerless leader in streaming video industry. Now Netflix appears poised to reenter the content game.

According to Deadline Hollywood, Netflix has outbid several major cable networks, including HBO and AMC, for the distribution rights to the new series 'House of Cards,' directed by David Fincher and starring Kevin Spacey. According to the site, Netflix has struck a deal that would commit the company to producing two seasons, totaling 26 episodes -- a deal practically unheard of in the modern television market. (Commitments are rarely made without first airing a pilot, and initial episode orders are usually much smaller.)

Though Netflix is still king in the streaming video game, other companies are beginning to offer serious challenges. Amazon just launched an unlimited streaming plan for Prime members, and Facebook which is experimenting with movie rentals through a partnership with Warner Bros. Producing high-quality original content could help set Netflix apart from the pack and maintain its position as a must-have service for any consumer of streaming media. The deal is worth a reported $100 million, and is a major risk for Netflix, especially since it may alienate the studios it relies on to provide the bulk of its content. We can only assume that executives at the company are banking on being perceived as an indispensable service for putting programing in front of consumers.

Tags: house of cards, HouseOfCards, media, netflix, streaming video, StreamingVideo, top, TV