In what could be a major step forward for online viewing, Netflix has addressed a long-standing criticism of the streaming model for one of its original series. Fans of the Emmy Award-winning and Golden Globe nominated political thriller House of Cards can now listen to audio commentaries from each of Season 1’s directors alongside the episodes when they watch them on Netflix.
To access the director commentaries, viewers need only to select them from the same menu used to add or remove subtitles. From here, audio commentary from all Season 1 directors, including David Fincher (The Social Network), James Foley (Glengarry Glen Ross), Joel Schumacher (Falling Down), Charles McDougall (The Good Wife), Carl Franklin (Homeland) and Allen Coulter (The Sopranos) is available. IGN reports that decision to add audio commentaries was made in order to revitalize interest in the show before the second season’s February 14th premiere.
I certainly appreciate how movies and television shows are readily accessible through multiple devices thanks to streaming. I also love how I don’t have to use or store physical media unless I really want to own something. However, I share the feelings of many passionate fans who miss bonus features, such as audio commentaries, that are not on Netflix or Amazon Instant Video. Currently, if these features are included on streaming features at all, they are infrequent additions to smaller films. While I hope that Netflix adding commentaries to House of Cards spurs on a trend of adding bonus features to streaming video, it will certainly prove more difficult to do such a thing to series and movies that are not the company’s original properties.
Of course, stakeholders who are involved in producing physical media have a vested interest in keeping bonus features exclusive to Blu-Rays and DVDs. I can only assume that there will be a protracted legal battle before bonus features are commonplace in the streaming market. Still, perhaps there is some sort of compromise that can be made between studios, distributors, and streaming companies someday in the future to make bonus features accessible to all viewers, regardless of platform.
Would you like to see more bonus features added to Netflix and Amazon Instant Video? Perhaps you prefer to have commentaries and such to remain exclusive to physical media? Weigh in on this issue in the comments!