Delivering the MacTaggart Lecture at the Edinburgh Television Festival, he spoke in defence of the model adopted by Netflix which saw House of Cards made available to subscribers as an entire series from its launch.
“Give people what they want, when they want it, in the form they want it in, at a reasonable price, and they’ll more likely pay for it rather than steal it,” he said.
“Well, some will still steal it, but I believe this new model can take a bite out of piracy.
“For years, particularly with the advent of the Internet, people have been griping about lessening attention spans.
“But if someone can watch an entire season of a TV series in one day, doesn’t that show an incredible attention span?
“When the story is good enough,” he said, “people can watch something three times the length of an opera.”
His comments follow Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes saying that Game of Thrones as the most pirated show in the world was “better than an Emmy.”
Spacey added: “The audience has spoken: They want stories. They’re dying for them.
“And they will talk about it, binge on it, carry it with them on the bus and to the hairdresser, force it on their friends, tweet, blog, Facebook… and God knows what else.
“All we have to do is give it to them.”
But there are already suggestions that the financial model of binge-broadcasts at Netflix might end up accelerating expenditures. Variety reports that the streaming service announced its second quarter earnings last month was a potentially significant shift in accounting practices.
“We are in the early stages of original content, and continue to monitor whether the viewing pattern is higher than initially expected in the first few months to suggest that we amortize at a faster initial rate,” Netflix indicated.
A Netflix spokesman said the company would have no further comment regarding the disclosure. But Variety offers a translation: Netflix may need to accelerate spending initially deferred a few years down the road for originals like House of Cards. You can read more here.
House of Cards was recently nominated for nine Emmy Awards, including one for Spacey for outstanding lead actor in a drama series.
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