9 Awesome Shows You Can Only Watch Online
Shows like HBO’s The Sopranos and AMC’s Mad Men have been challenging network television’s dominance for years. But in the last few years, networks and premium channels alike have found itself challenged by a whole new medium. Services like Netflix and Hulu used to rely on traditionally produced content — users could view select TV shows and movies online, but only after they had premiered on television or in theaters. Hulu, formed in partnership by some of the major networks, would run shows the day after they aired, while Netflix wouldn’t get them until whole seasons were complete.
But now the same players who were once in the business of re-runs are coming out with their own original programming. Studios have taken note and now some major networks are even trying to get in on the action, producing content exclusively to be viewed online. It’s making for some great television — even if it’s not exactly ‘television.’ Original series, webseries, whatever you call them — hopefully they’re here to stay, because some of the best shows aren’t on TV, they’re online.
1. House of Cards (Netflix)
Probably the most obvious addition to a list of the best online series, House of Cards was a game changer. Before, no one knew whether Netflix could create quality original content that people would want to watch, but the streaming service put all questions to rest with the Kevin Spacey thriller that finally cemented the term ‘binge watching’ in the national lexicon.
By releasing every episode of the series at once, Netflix was able to suck in viewers like no network ever could. Instead of waiting a week or more for a new episode, Netflix subscribers could devour an entire season in a weekend. When the much-awaited second season was released this year, according to broadband data company Procera, 3.6 percent of Netflix subscribers watched the first five episodes on day one — Valentine’s Day, and a workday. Though Netflix won’t release the numbers itself, it’s clear the show was a massive hit. By the time the second season went live, the show had already racked up two Emmy nominations and four Golden Globe nominations, including a win for actress Robin Wright.
The show, in the vaguest of terms, is a political thriller. More specifically, it’s one of the darkest portraits of Washington ever painted, making ABC’s Scandal look almost like children’s daytime programming in comparison (almost.) Kevin Spacey’s Frank Underwood will make your soul shiver, and that’s what everyone loves about him. If you’re new to online shows, this is the place to start. House of Cards may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it would be wrong to ignore it — not because Netflix deserves your attention for doing something new, not because of the critical acclaim, but because everyone is talking about it.