House of Cards won Netflix its first ever Emmy this week, with director David Fincher honoured for his work on the series’ first episode. The award was hailed, notably by TechCrunch, as a milestone for the TV business, as it is the first time a series not shown on network or cable has been recognised in this way.

As if the Academy was listening to House of Cards star and executive producer Kevin Spacey‘s much-commented speech to the Edinburg Television Festival, where he urged TV channels to give control back to viewers. Particularly interesting was his claim that the industry spends at least $300m per year on pilot episodes, yet two thirds of that investment is wasted, as the programmes aren’t commissioned. Netflix, said Spacey, was the only broadcaster willing to take on House of Cards when he pitched it with Fincher:

“Netflix was the only network that said, “We believe in you. We’ve run our data and it tells us that our audience would watch this series. We don’t need you to do a pilot. How many episodes do you want to do?” “

The speech is essential viewing if you missed it. But does it, and House of Cards’ Emmy win, mean things are really changing? Yes, according to AMC’s Josh Sapan, whose Breaking Bad was the biggest winner at last week’s Emmys. At the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Media, Communications and Entertainment Conference early September, Sapan said Breaking Bad’s audiences wouldn’t have grown season-to-season — up 50% for season 4 — without VOD platforms like Netflix.

Meanwhile, news seemed to be less good for YouTube and its partners. Leading multi-channel network (MCN) Machinima recently laid off another 10% of its 200-strong workforce, reported Pando Daily, having already let 23 people go late 2012. This came as criticisms of YouTube’s model became increasingly fierce. Analyst Mark Suster pointed out that YouTube could not continue taking 45% of revenues, leaving MCNs with just 55%. iTunes, for comparison, takes 30%, and even that is considered a lot by many.

Maker Studios co-founder Lisa Donovan, meanwhile, suggested her MCN is in it for the long haul, insisting that YouTube content can be on a par with TV shows like Breaking Bad, or even big-budget movies: “Just because it costs $100 million to make a movie, does it mean it’s quality if I don’t enjoy it and I don’t think it’s interesting?” she said. Maker Studios, as it happens, has just secured another $26m in funding

YouTube also created quite a buzz by announcing that its videos would be available offline for a limited time as of November; music MCN Vevo promptly annouced it would not be a part of this scheme, no doubt as videos can only be monetised with ads if they’re online…

Rival video platform Vimeo also announced more good news for producers: it has started finding indie films, to broaden its on-demand platform, reported paidcontent.

Last but not least, an outstanding online video success story for Viki, the Singapore-based platform for Asian TV and film content, which was acquired by Japan’s Rakuten for a reported $200m, according to GigaOm. Great news for this platform which, when we discovered it in 2011, was a site for crowdsourced subtitles, and now describes itself as “Hulu for the rest of the world“. Be sure to congratulate founder & MIPCOM speaker Razmig Hovaghimian in Cannes! (session details here).


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As Head of Social Media for Reed MIDEM, James Martin oversees social strategy and deployment for B2B events MIPTV and MIPCOM, Midem (music industry) and MIPIM & MAPIC (real estate & retail). He is based in Reed MIDEM's Paris office.

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