House of Cards may not be Netflix's first stab at original content, but it's by far its most important. Whether people turn to the streaming service for shows it can't find anywhere else will define the company's chance at future success. Which is why, starting today, the first episode of House of Cards is free to watch even if you're not a Netflix member.

The Kevin Spacey political series's first hour will be free-for-all for a month, after which it gets closed up behind Netflix's $8/month moat. Which is smart! Non-members don't have to decide blind whether the original shows are worth tacking on yet another streaming service, and Netflix gets to build hype for a show it clearly has a lot of confidence in. And honestly, it should be a mortal sin to keep Kevin Spacey behind a paywall for any reason. [Netflix]