When the cult-hit comedy is resurrected for its fanatically anticipated fourth season, the streaming video juggernaut will make all 10 episodes available at once
Arrested Development fans clamoring for new episodes of the cult-hit comedy will have their wishes granted in a windfall. Netflix, which will air season four of the Emmy-winning series that was canceled by Fox six years ago, plans to make all 10 new episodes of the show available for streaming at the same time. (A release date hasn't been set.) This eschews the traditional network TV method of releasing new installments of a series on a weekly basis. "Netflix is already a game-changer for television and on-demand video," says Kelly West at Cinema Blend, "but this could take things to the next level." Is this atypical all-at-once release strategy a smart idea?
It's revolutionary... but not in a good way: "I like the slow rollout of traditional TV," says James Hibberd at Entertainment Weekly. Eagerly waiting for the next installment of serialized entertainment has been exciting audiences since the 19th century, when American readers would wait on New York docks for ships to bring the latest from Britain's Charles Dickens. We love having an ongoing, communal relationship with a show. Now, no one will ask at the water cooler, "Did you see Arrested Development last night?"
"Arrested Development: Netflix to release all 10 episodes at once"
Well, it makes sense for Netflix: Netflix is a streaming service free of the ratings and advertising constraints of a network TV show, says Kofi Outlaw at Screen Rant. It only cares about accruing total viewers, not viewers during a certain half-hour block. Dumping entire seasons of its original programming just acknowledges how viewers already interact with streaming services: People gorge on Netflix shows in "marathon fashion." Binge-watching Arrested Development on DVD or Hulu is how most fans discovered the show in the first place, and it's proved to be the best way to keep up with its "carefully-stacked reoccurring jokes and semi-serialized storylines."
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One way or the other, Netflix "will rewrite the rules of TV watching": Superfans will predictably consume all 10 episodes in one sitting, says Kyle Buchanan at New York. But if new viewers respond to the release method, too, it could pave the way for other series to follow suit. It also changes the relationship between TV watching, social media, and spoilers. How can you be sure your tweets aren't ruining a plot twist for someone when you're on episode eight but your pal is only on episode four? This strategy could also thwart the show's all-important "buzz." Rather than superfans speculating about the show's upcoming episodes for weeks on end, the obsession will only last a few days, at most.
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