Netflix Original Series Seeing Awards Season Bump

Nominations for 'House of Cards,' 'Orange Is the New Black' bring fresh interest

Orange Is the New Black

The awards shows of recent months are bringing fresh attention to Netflix original series “House of Cards” and “Orange Is the New Black” months after their release, company execs noted in its fourth-quarter earnings comments.

Over 80 nominations for Netflix’s originals slate — including a big win at the Golden Globes for “Cards” star Robin Wright — is tranlsating to “nice spikes in viewership,” according to chief content officer Ted Sarandos.

“We’re seeing both overall audience expand and the viewing hours for these shows grow month over month over month,” he told analysts on a Google Hangout session after Netflix earnings were released.

Netflix is hoping to see a similar effect on “The Square,” a documentary up for an Oscar nomination that began running on the service earlier this month.

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Sarandos also noted that series are being watched again given that “Cards” is returning to Netflix for a second season next month. Netflix recently introduced a version of the series complete with a DVD-style feature, directors’ commentary.

Of course, no Netflix Q&A with analysts is complete without murky references to the company’s original-content prowess that come suspiciously devoid of actual numbers. At one point, Sarandos suggested that Netflix was capable of fielding audiences for particular programming on par with a cable-TV-sized viewership.

“When you look at numbers of a cable show and people are tuning in on a Sunday night, Netflix can dwarf that number,” he said, stopping short of specifying any program in particular on TV or Netflix. Still, it’s rare to see Netflix offer even a ballpark figure like that.

Sarandos also talked up the social-media impact of Netflix series, which has been called into question because binge viewing is thought to condense the period networks talk about a series compared with shows that air on the traditional weekly basis.

Asked about his interest in getting into the movie business,  Sarandos didn’t confirm any specific reports that have circulated about Netflix’s interest in invading the theatrical window. As he put it, Netflix is simply exploring how to get titles in advance of the yearlong gap that separates theatrical from the pay TV window. “What we’d like to do is find different ways to accelerate that window,” he said. “The most effective way to do that is to do it yourself.”