Netflix to produce 13-episode TV series exclusive to its Internet members

TELEVISION

Netflix to produce exclusive series

Netflix, in discussions to expand its footprint with U.S. cable television operators, has entered into its first series production deal with a major Hollywood studio.

Netflix, which streamed political thriller “House of Cards,” said it has ordered a new psychological thriller series from Sony Pictures Television and the creators of the FX legal drama “Damages.” The 13-episode first season will premiere exclusively for Netflix members to watch instantly, the company said Monday.

“House of Cards,” a sleek political drama from a small production company led by actor Kevin Spacey, was released in a similar manner by Netflix early this year. Its success with critics elevated the stature of programming delivered solely over the Internet, a field that is attracting the biggest names in Silicon Valley and a roster of A-list Hollywood stars.

Cable TV operators have been leery of the potential competition presented by Netflix and other Silicon Valley newcomers, but that hesitation may be fading.

Netflix, which began as a video rental service, is discussing with several U.S. cable operators the inclusion of its streaming video service on their set-top boxes, a source said Monday, helping to boost the company’s shares nearly 8 percent to $324.36.

Netflix is in talks with companies including Comcast and Suddenlink Communications, said the person, who is familiar with the discussions. The talks were first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

Last month, two European cable companies — Sweden’s Com Hem and Virgin Media in Britain — struck deals to allow their customers to access Netflix through Tivo set-top boxes.

— Reuters

EUROPE

Finance ministers debate rescue fund

Euro-zone finance ministers on Monday sought ways to create a common fund to restructure or bail out troubled banks, an effort to keep financial problems in one country from endangering the entire 17-nation currency bloc.

The ministers’ discussions in Luxembourg were still in the early stages, not least because of resistance from Germany and other countries that have paid the bulk of Europe’s rescue programs.

The fund would complete Europe’s planned banking union and help restore market confidence, but Berlin and other capitals have concerns about its legal basis and fear that their taxpayers will be stuck with bills to clean up messy banks in weaker European economies.

Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who chairs the meetings of the euro-zone finance ministers, said the discussions were meant to make progress on technical details rather than reach an overall agreement.

Before the fund can become operational, European countries aim to set up a banking authority with the power to restructure or unwind banks that go bust. That is expected to happen once the European Central Bank — in its new role as supervisor for the bloc’s biggest banks — has analyzed all balance sheets to identify possible capital shortfalls by late next year.

— Associated Press

Also in Business

About 82 percent of U.S. workers 50 and older say it is at least somewhat likely that they will work for pay in retirement, according to an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll released Monday. And 47 percent of the workers expect to retire later than they previously thought — on average nearly three years beyond their estimate when they were 40.

Verizon Wireless leaped forward in the race for online allure Monday by launching same-day delivery of phones to customers in the Philadelphia area, a perk the company said it would extend to several other markets by the year’s end. No longer will customers in Philadelphia and some of its suburbs have to wait overnight for new, replacement or even “loaner” travel phones. Now, orders made online by 10 a.m. will be delivered by 7 p.m. to the customer’s location unless a particular device is on back order, such as the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C, Verizon Wireless said.

Bayerische Motoren Werke, or BMW, the world’s biggest maker of luxury vehicles, will have to increase investment in electric-car production if demand for the new i3 model continues in line with initial orders. Customers have reserved more than 8,000 of the battery-powered i3, which will cost $41,350 in the United States, even before the car hits showrooms in Europe next month, Chief Financial Officer Friedrich Eichiner said Monday in Amsterdam. BMW expects to sell more than 10,000 of the four-person cars next year and “will adjust capacity according to demand,” he said at a news conference.

Revel AC, the Atlantic City, N.J., casino that emerged from bankruptcy five months ago after being unable to service $1.5 billion of debt, is running out of cash again. Gaming revenue in September was $14.9 million, a 12 percent drop from a year earlier, putting Revel on track to burn through the $16.3 million in cash it held as of June by the first half of 2014 if sales don’t improve, a report from Deutsche Bank said. The 12 venues in Atlantic City are headed for their worst year in more than two decades as competition grows from casinos in New York and Pennsylvania.

October new-vehicle sales may be slashed by as much as 10 percent by a prolonged U.S. government shutdown, which is damaging consumer confidence, said John Krafcik, chief executive of Hyundai’s U.S. sales unit. The standoff in Washington is generating anxiety for many people, he said in an interview with Sara Eisen, co-anchor of “Bloomberg Surveillance.” “It’s that anxiety that keeps customers, potential buyers, on the sidelines when making a big purchase like an automobile,” Krafcik said. “We’ll probably see the industry off 5 to 10 percent this month, compared to where it was in September.” September deliveries slipped 4.2 percent for the first decrease in more than two years. ●

— From news services

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