In a sampling strategy straight from the playbook of premium cable networks, Netflix starting Friday is making the first episode of political drama House of Cards available for free to anyone in its territories around the world for one month.
The first episode of the first season is available at netflix.com/houseofcards. Netflix reportedly spent $100 million to secure the rights to House of Cards, outbidding cable networks including AMC Networks and HBO.
"The creative team in front of and behind the camera have delivered a riveting 13-chapter narrative that we're proud to present to Netflix members today," Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos said in a statement. "By offering the first episode for free, including to non-members, we are opening up this fascinating world for everyone to see and are confident they'll want more."
David Fincher (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Social Network) directed the first two episodes of House of Cards, based on the BBC miniseries of the same name. The series -- which stars Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright and Kate Mara -- “slithers beneath the curtain and through the back halls of greed, sex, love and corruption in modern Washington, D.C.,” according to Netflix’s description.
Earlier this week, Netflix announced the pricing of an offering of $500 million in debt, which it plans to use for general corporate purposes, including funding original TV series as well as "potential acquisitions and strategic transactions."
Current Netflix members are now able to watch the entire 13-episode first season of the drama series, in territories where Netflix is available: the U.S., Canada , U.K., Ireland , Latin America, Brazil and the Nordics.
For the fourth quarter of 2012, Netflix added 2.05 million U.S. streaming users, to end 2012 with 27.15 million domestic members. Internationally, Netflix added 1.81 million users in the period to stand at 6.12 million subscriptions at the end of 2012.