Kevin Spacey wants to let users control the content


Last week, actor Kevin Spacey gave a long speech to the Guardian Edinburgh International Television Festival about why his Netflix series, "House of Cards", resonated with a large audience--and it came down to giving people control over the content.

That's a scary prospect to an industry used to controlling every aspect of content delivery right down to the time we are supposed to watch it. But viewers are no longer beholden to the idea of being in front of our televisions at a certain time every week for 13 weeks or 26 weeks, or whatever number of episodes the network happens to have ordered.

In reality, that time shifting has been happening for years since the advent of the DVR, but mobile platforms have altered it even more. We don't even have to be in our living rooms now to watch our favorite shows. We can do it from anywhere, any time, on any device--and with services like Netflix we can watch all the shows in one sitting if that's what we want to do.

And Spacey is thrilled about this because he knows when viewers are happy with a show, they talk about it on every avenue they have and they display an unbridled passion for the shows they love. Online social media gives them an outlet to carry these discussions far and wide.

"They will talk about it, binge on it, carry it with them on the bus and to the hair dresser, force it on their friends, tweet, blog, Facebook, make fan pages, silly gifs and God knows what else about it. Engage with it with a passion and an intimacy that a blockbuster movie could only dream of," Spacey said in his speech.

And he believes it's all rooted in the control we are giving viewers, something he says that today's children have grown up expecting and they won't accept anything else. "But for kids growing up now. There's no difference watching Avatar on an iPad or watching YouTube on a TV or watching Game of Thrones on their computer. It's all content. It's just story and the audience has spoken. They want stories. They're dying for them," Spacey said.

And Spacey pointed out that when you give the people what they want and you deliver it across multiple channels at a reasonable price, something else good happens. People won't steal it if they can buy it and they don't feel they are being gouged. This is a point Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos made earlier this year when he said he believes services like his are reducing piracy.

Spacey certainly believes it when he said, "And through this new form of distribution, we have proved that we learned the lesson 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. Well, some will still steal it, but I think we can take a bite out of piracy."

And it's all so simple in Spacey's view. Just just give the people what they want. Here's a man who gets what it takes to move the entertainment industry from dead 20th century delivery methods to the 21st century Internet-enabled models.

And he's not just talking the talk, folks. He's walking the walk. His show, "House of Cards", is proof. - Ron

Here's a look at an excerpt from that speech: