I was asked by well-respected analyst firm TDG to pen a piece of the impact of Netflix wrapping up exclusive rights to the upcoming 4th season of Arrested Development (for their must-read OTT Newsletter). At first they asked if I could get it done in the next two weeks, but I said, “two weeks, I can do it in two days. Hey!” So readers who are surprised at that phrasing will probably want to stop right about now, since the rest of it is, in fact, an analysis, but one heavily wrapped in Arrested Development quotes. You’ve been warned:
“I’ve made a huge mistake,” a quote that could either be attributed to the hasty creation (and destruction) of Qwikster, or to one G.O.B. Bluth, Will Arnett’s character on Arrested Development. In a groundbreaking move, those worlds collided as Netflix announced it was the “network of choice” to distribute the upcoming revival of the cult favorite show (leading many of us to say, “them?”).
Not FOX (the original broadcaster of the show), not Showtime (once rumored to pick it up from FOX), was in play here. In fact, not a single broadcast, cable, or premium network will carry the new episodes.
While Netflix already has rights to a forthcoming original effort (House of Cards, by David Fincher and Kevin Spacey), the Arrested Development play is a first for an existing show to be revived yet not be available through traditional TV (as fans of the show might say, “no touching!”).
Part of the curiosity here is that the show now has a larger fan base than when it was cancelled in 2006, and populates many “Most Popular” lists on Hulu, Netflix, VUDU, etc. One would assume traditional broadcasters would express interest in locking down that large audience…so much for assumptions.
For Netflix in particular, this is a very big deal. The company is acting like a loose seal out of water and consequently has Wall Street running scared. Having exclusive access to this show might bring back some of the recently lost customer base and could sit well with show fans, especially given that a key criticism of its service is related to its catalog.
From an OTT perspective, it’s safe to say there is no illusion of the tremendous opportunity ahead. In a world that seems to be moving more and more down a path where consumers can get truly quantum video access – the content they want, from the provider they want, on the device they want, at the time they want – this is a big stride forward.
Disclosures: I own a tiny amount of Netflix stock personally, but much more importantly, I’m a huge huge Arrested Development fan. And as they say, there’s always money in the banana stand. Come on!
ps – and that’s why you always add a disclosure.