I’ll chalk my skepticism up to any number of reasons. Seven years have passed since the series wrapped up which is a loooooooooooooong time. Part of the genius of the show from the beginning for me was the writing and I just have a hard time coming to grips with the new season being anything more than simply an effort to just get a few more episodes out.
I’m not one to pay much attention to critics, but when I read in The New York Times: “If you truly loved (the first three seasons of ‘Arrested Development’), it’s hard to imagine being anything but disappointed with this new rendition.” I realized that I was thinking that before it ever even came out. Oy…
I’m sure I’ll end up checking it out at some point or another, but it’ll be a while. I’m not even a Netflix subscriber. Netflix has nothing I want, so why subscribe to it? No, I haven’t seen House of Cards. I’ve been busy watching HBO. But this all leads me to my greater point that Netflix may want to seriously rethink their binge-viewing strategy as it could most certainly come back to bite them in the ass.
Here’s the thing: binge-viewing does work…for some shows. Older shows that have already been around the block are perfect for binge-viewing if that’s your thing. But if Netflix’s strategy is to develop more original content in order to differentiate themselves (and I agree with this move…they need to do something because they are becoming less and less special every day given the competition that’s growing out there), they are going to need to think about stretching out the lives of these things.
House of Cards is a good example. I’m sure the show is fine. It certainly received great reviews. But that’s over now. Nobody’s talking about it anymore. Anywhere. Viewers are going to have to wait until like next March to see new episodes. That takes the entire life out of the show as far as I can see it. It was like a season in a week. Doneski.
Now an example on the other end of the spectrum: Game of Thrones (or we can go with Breaking Bad, Sons of Anarchy, American Horror Story, Boardwalk Empire, Downton Abbey, you get my point). These shows are living long and healthy lives as linear shows on a weekly schedule. Of course you can binge-view older seasons. You can also just wait for the stuff to eventually come out on Netflix or Amazon Prime or iTunes. But Game of Thrones et al are shows that I would argue actually benefit from the linear schedule. It gives them (hence their developers) longer lives; it keeps people interested and in tune longer. People talk about these shows every week in my office. House of Cards not so much.
If I can watch all of Arrested Development in one night, then BAM! It’s over. One freaking night and an entire season of original (and not cheap) content is done. So what this potentially leads them to is having to produce more stuff. A lot more stuff. And it costs a LOT of money to produce a lot of stuff (at least stuff worth a shit). This works out great for subscribers because hey, they’re getting more stuff and paying a measly $7.99 a month. But investors may be getting the short end of the stick here. The company will issue more debt to produce more stuff and when they release it all at once then they’ll need to make even more stuff. Again, great if you’re a subscriber paying $7.99 per month. But I’ve got zero interest in investing in Netflix. And by the way I am calling it now; they will be issuing more debt within the year.
Netflix needs to do two things in my estimation (and that may not be all). It needs to start seriously thinking about how it can raise prices and it needs to seriously rethink releasing all of their original content at once. It’s just a nasty pace to have to keep up with and I wouldn’t want to count on being able to do it indefinitely. Again, great for subscribers; but scary as hell for investors.