House of Cards Popular in India ‘Thanks’ to Piracy

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At the International Indian Film Academy Awards in Tampa this weekend, Kevin Spacey highlighted one of the core problems of media distribution in the Internet age. The star actor of the popular Netflix series House of Cards noted that the show is immensely popular in India, which is a problem since the latest episodes are not legally available.

netflixEvery day millions of people download TV-shows without getting permission from rightsholders.

While some do so because they find the legal alternatives too expensive, there’s a large group that simply has no legal options available to them.

The latter is the case in India, where the Netflix original series “House of Cards” can’t be seen legally since the movie streaming service hasn’t rolled out there yet. As a result, Indians can only watch the popular series on demand through unauthorized channels.

According to House of Card’s Kevin Spacey, the Indians are turning to these pirate sources in large numbers. During the International Indian Film Academy Awards in Tampa, Florida, he noted that the TV-show is suspiciously popular in India.

“House of Cards is really big in India, I discovered,” Spacey said at the red carpet event on Saturday.

The actor isn’t all too happy about this popularity, and accuses the Indians of thievery. Since Netflix’ streaming services aren’t available in India yet, they literally don’t have the “right” to see it.

“Except isn’t it funny that Netflix doesn’t exist there yet. Which means that you’re stealing it,” Spacey added.

Whether Spacey is unhappy with the show’s fans in India, or the fact that they have no legal options is not entirely clear. However, the only real solution to the problem is to ensure that Indians can watch the show too, without breaking the law.

The problem that’s highlighted by the House of Cards actor remains one of the major challenges for the TV-studios. For decades, the industry has gotten used to delaying international premieres for month or years, something that fans no longer accept.

Luckily, a lot of progress has been made in recent years, with most popular U.S. TV-series premiering on the same day in dozens of countries around the world.

While “availability” is no silver bullet that can stop piracy altogether, it’s a crucial first step to take.

Update: Perhaps Spacey was a bit too quick with his “stealing” allegations. House of Cards is available on Zee Cafe in India, although not on demand. This means that there is a legal option for those who have access to the channel via cable or satellite.


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