It’s Not TV: It’s the Fight to Be the New HBO

All’s fair in love and programming in the age of Netflix

It’s Not TV: It’s the Fight to Be the New HBO
House of Cards: Photo by Patrick Harbron | Hemlock Grove: Photo by Ken Woroner | © Netflix | courtesy Everett Collection; The Americans: Craig Blankenhorn Louie: courtesy of FX; Mad Men: Photos by Jamie Trueblood | Frank Ockenfels | AMC; Game of Thrones: courtesy of HBO; The Following: Courtesy of FOX


Jon Hamm

Signature star: Jon Hamm
Programming Philosophy:
Past: original shows run by a visionary writer.
Present: sequels and split seasons
Programming: Stuck in 2007: stream recent episodes at; farm out old seasons to Netflix
Prestige bait: Mad Men
Gore that pays the bills: The Walking Dead
Move made with one eye on Netflix: Paid up for Breaking Bad prequel Better Call Saul to keep it away from Netflix
Boldest move: Creating the Talking after-shows for people who want to watch B-listers recap episodes
Head-scratcher: Splitting the last season of Mad Men into two seven-episode chunks to run in 2014 and 2015
Creative geniuses and bitchy comment about rival: Joel Stillerman and Charlie Collier; “If you were interested in [Breaking Bad], we made sure you had a chance to see it,” says Collier, in response to the idea that Netflix made the series popular.



Emilia Clarke

Signature star: Emilia Clarke
Programming Philosophy: High-gloss takes on classic TV genres–with nudity and swearing
Programming: Delight HBO cable subscribers with Go app, annoy everyone else who can’t get it
Prestige bait: The Newsroom
Gore that pays the bills: Game of Thrones
Move made with one eye on Netflix: Did its first straight-to-series order in years in the wake of Netflix’s House of Cards deal
Boldest move: Sticking with Treme and The Newsroom
Head-scratcher: Chasing Netflix into Scandinavia, where it has struggled out of the gate
Creative genius and bitchy comment about rival: Michael Lombardo on Netflix not releasing ratings: “It’s curious. I don’t know what to make of it.”


The Following

Signature star: Kevin Bacon
Programming Philosophy: Cable-style, limited-run event series with big-name stars
Programming: Slowly leech all the fun out of Hulu, which it owns with Disney and Comcast
Prestige bait: Greg Kinnear’s forthcoming legal drama, Rake
Gore that pays the bills: The Following
Move made with one eye on Netflix: Made three straight-to-series orders for the 2014 TV season
Boldest move: Ordering the Egyptian period drama Hieroglyph straight to series
Head-scratcher: Stars in Danger: The High Dive
Creative genius and bitchy comment about rival: Kevin Reilly on Netflix not releasing ratings: “Then there are services like Netflix that are speaking to an unreported mystery audience.”

FX Networks

The Americans

Signature star: Louis CK
Programming Philosophy: Low-budget, lowbrow, low bro comedies; diverse, pulpy dramas
Programming: Give subs the ultimate binge: 500+ episodes of The Simpsons on its new FXNow app
Prestige bait: The Americans
Gore that pays the bills: American Horror Story
Move made with one eye on Netflix: Renewed Sons of Anarchy after Netflix helped new viewers catch up
Boldest move: Spinning off comedies (except Louie and Archer) to launch the FXX channel
Head-scratcher: Agreed to air 100 episodes of Charlie Sheen’s Anger Management
Creative genius and bitchy comment about rival: John Landgraf on Netflix renewing shows before they air: “I just don’t think that’s the way to run your business.”



Hemlock Grove

Signature star: Kevin Spacey
Programming Philosophy: Subscriber data reveals which stars and genres to bet on, then get out of the way (mostly)
Programming: Recommend new titles through a slick player that works across hundreds of devices
Prestige bait: House of Cards
Gore that pays the bills: Hemlock Grove
Boldest move: Green-lighting Orange Is the New Black, which lacked a big-time pedigree
Head-scratcher: They knew Derek was about a mentally challenged nursing home volunteer, right?
Creative genius and bitchy comment about rival: Ted Sarandos: “Playing the odds game, where [you] make 20 pilots and make two and one [series] sticks…that’s a good business?”

Related: Netflix: The Red Menace


About the author

Nicole LaPorte is an LA-based senior writer for Fast Company who writes about where technology and entertainment intersect. She previously was a columnist for The New York Times and a staff writer for Newsweek/The Daily Beast and Variety