23 Aug 2013

Kevin Spacey: TV’s future is on the web

The Oscar winning actor starring in the remake of the House of Cards calls for an increase in online streaming services such as Netflix so that people can “binge” on an entire television series.

Releasing films online, in cinemas and on DVD at the same time would take “a huge bite” out of piracy, according to Kevin Spacey.

The Hollywood star used a keynote speech at the Edinburgh Television Festival to tell TV executives they should give “control” to their audiences or risk losing them.

Spacey, whose recent foray into television – House Of Cards – has been a commercial and critical hit after it was released on streaming service Netflix, said there was a danger of “thinking that something which is working now will necessarily work a year from now”.

Bite out of privacy

He said: “I believe the notion of being able to convince the theatre owners that we can open a movie online, in the movie theatres, on DVD, on the same day is probably where it’s leading and I believe that would be a huge bite out of piracy because if it’s all available nobody is going to be stealing it before someone else gets it.”

Giving the keynote James MacTaggart memorial lecture in Edinburgh on Thursday night, Spacey said: “Clearly the success of the Netflix model – releasing the entire season of House Of Cards at once – has proved one thing: the audience wants control.

“They want freedom. If they want to binge – as they’ve been doing on House Of Cards – then we should let them binge.”

Customer demand

The actor said that way of working “demonstrated that we have learned the lesson that the music industry didn’t learn – 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”.

Spacey, who starred in and was also executive producer on the show which was nominated for nine Emmy awards, warned the audience of media executives that “labels” were becoming meaningless and they risked being “left behind”.

He said: “If you watch a TV show on your iPad is it no longer a TV show? The device and length are irrelevant… For kids growing up now there’s no difference watching Avatar on an iPad or watching YouTube on a TV and watching Game Of Thrones on their computer. It’s all content. It’s all story.”

Previous MacTaggart speakers have included Mark Thompson, Rupert Murdoch, Jeremy Paxman and Dennis Potter.

The festival will also hear from ITV boss Peter Fincham and Pointless star Richard Osman later today.

The festival finishes on Saturday.

Netflix - what's it all about?

Essentially Netflix is a dowloadable computer application (app) which for £5.99 a month allows customers to access films and television series for an unlimited time.
This means that viewers can watch an entire series rather than wait a week for the next episode. Netflix runs on Apple TV, the Wii, Xbox 360 and PS3,
Android phones and tablets, Windows Phones, iOS devices, internet-enabled TVs and Blu-ray players, and streaming players from Philips, Roku and Western Digital.
The most recent addition to the list is the Kindle Fire HD. If downloaded on to a computer, smart phone or tablet it then can be viewed or attached to a television and watched conventionally.