House of Cards just punked us all

And it wasn’t an accident- it was brilliant marketing.

About an hour ago, I saw a Tweet that claimed the 3rd season of House of Cards had magically appeared on Netflix, 2 weeks ahead of schedule. I quickly raced to confirm or debunk this wonderful news. While not having immediate access to Netflix, but seeing more and more tweets pop up on my feed, I wondered (=prayed) that perhaps Netflix had gone Beyonce and I would be calling off work tomorrow while chugging B-12 to binge watch the new season- as I assume the majority of America would also be doing.

I, like so many others were swiftly- yet somehow brutally- let down faster than Meechum chasing vandals in season 1 (I’m trying really hard to not give away any spoilers here). Netflix quickly pulled the season, but not before some brave soul was able to record each episode synopsis, giving us just a tiny glimpse of what lies ahead in Washington.

It was just enough context to cause great speculation among the country (at the very least the 3 people I was able to persuade to stop and talk to me) and help increase the hype a few weeks before the scheduled premiere. Now we will all be talking about what’s going to happen, who’s going to die, and who’s life Frank will ruin next- but now with more“evidence”.

But was this really an accident? How does one “accidentally” upload ten episodes of a brand new, insanely popular show? Do they start drinking over at Netflix earlier than most places? I don’t work there, but I’m going to take a wild guess that there’s some type of protocol for launching an entire new season- and that their interns don’t have access to these controls.

As I alluded to above, we’ve been seeing experiments regarding marketing and distribution of content recently. Last December, Beyonce released an album unannounced on iTunes (and spread the word via Instagram) that shattered iTunes store records. The Interview also tested out a nontraditional distribution route after causing a huge controversy prior to being released online- although the jury is still out on whether or not this tactic can provide a sustainable model for the industry.

Could this incident simply be another clever marketing tactic? People “leak” information all the time to create buzz about new media (just ask Ryan Holiday). It’s nothing new. But Netflix has already grabbed our attention for hours upon end by releasing seasons in bulk. Perhaps they wanted to hold our curiosity for just a bit longer. Or did some poor soul actually forget what day it was and push the big red button that I assume Netflix totally has for the moment they launch a new season?

My guess is that we’ll never know.