Netflix's big gamble with 'House of Cards' Netflix will test whether Machiavelli and math are a winning formula as the world's largest subscription-video service begins streaming the political thriller "House of Cards," its most ambitious step yet into original online-TV programs. Hastings, 52, is placing big financial bets to secure the Los Gatos company's future as the dominant player as more viewers move online. Hastings, whose company has 27.2 million U.S. subscribers, says Netflix can grow to as many as 90 million over the next two decades - a challenge made harder as online competitors like Amazon, Hulu and Redbox Instant by Verizon pile in, and traditional channels expand with digital offerings like HBO Go from the Time Warner-owned channel. Standard & Poor's changed its outlook on Netflix's speculative BB-minus level debt to negative, citing cash flow levels this year and next, increasing debt leverage and "risks associated with original programming." "Netflix will continue to generate negative cash flow going forward, driven by the company's ever-increasing streaming commitments," said Pachter. The company financed "House of Cards" after seeing many subscribers watched Oscar-nominated director David Fincher's movies and that others are fans of its protagonist, Spacey. Investors including Carl Icahn, who holds a 10 percent stake of Netflix stock and options, are showing confidence in the company's strategy.