After a month of speculation, the reboot of Arrested Development has landed at Netflix. As I speculated a month ago, there were multiple suitors for the show, which creator Mitch Hurwitz announced at a panel in New York last month would last for about 10 episodes and lead into an Arrested Development movie. Showtime, Hulu, and Netflix were the primary bidders, and it was announced that Netflix won the rights on November 19th. The new episodes will premiere in early 2013, according to Hurwitz. Fox and Imagine Television will co-produce the episodes, and Netflix will cover a portion of the costs.
As the year comes to a close, Netflix has suffered through a dreadful 2011. Throughout the year, they raised their prices, lost their deal with Starz, apologized for their price hikes, introduced Qwikster, got rid of Qwikster altogether, and watched their stock fall 37-percent. Yikes. Reid Hastings and his company desperately needed a win, and this may have been it.
By signing this deal, Netflix is staking their reputation on events in the future. To start, Netflix is assuming they’ll still be in business in 2013, which hadn’t necessarily been looking like a certainty recently. But what they’re also doing is assuring their customers that something is coming down the pipeline if they stick it out with Netflix. While users can leave and join Netflix as they please, Netflix is hoping that promised exclusivity in about 18 months will keep users supportive of (and paying for) their brand. If, for example, Arrested Development premieres on Netflix in February of 2013, customers that have stayed with Netflix between the announcement and the premiere date will have paid over $120 for the streaming service. Not a bad chunk of change.
With that in mind, it’s time to premiere a new segment here on Fueled: A Goofy Comparison to Pro Wrestling. This past April, the WWE announced that John Cena would face The Rock at next year’s Wrestlemania, in 2012 in Miami. Never before had a match been announced a year in advance. But the knowledge that it was already booked made Cena a more interesting character within the world of the WWE, since it was already known what he’d be doing at Wrestlemania, the Super Bowl of professional wrestling. Fans have been invested in seeing how the WWE would set up Cena, an extremely polarizing personality, for this gigantic match, which has lead to increases in merchandise, tickets, and advertising sales for the WWE. The delayed gratification in seeing Cena face The Rock has kept customers engaged in the product long before its payoff. If, by using the same technique, Netflix can keep people excited for the Arrested Development premiere, they will have been able to salvage this horror show of a year. It couldn’t come at a better time.