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Economist

Online-video sites: Net flicks

January 31, 2013

?POWER is a lot like real estate. It?s all about location, location, location.? So muses Frank Underwood, a scheming congressman played by the actor Kevin Spacey (pictured), in the pilot of ?House of Cards?, a new American series. Netflix, an online-video and DVD rental firm, shares that perspective. ?House of Cards?, an adaptation of a BBC mini-series, has big-name actors and a big budget (the first 26 episodes are thought to have cost more than $100m). But when the show premieres on February 1st, it will do so exclusively on Netflix, not cable or broadcast television.Creating original, high-end television shows for subscribers is a new tack for a firm, the main business of which is renting out and streaming other companies? content online. Others are following suit. Amazon, an online shopping mall that also offers a video-streaming service, has commissioned six television pilots, and has plans to develop films. Hulu, an online-video site, is also making original programmes, such as ?Battleground?. YouTube, Google?s online-video site, which is better known for amateur videos of babies and blunders, has launched ?channels? that are run by media companies and...

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