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What Arrested Development’s Return Means for the Web TV Community

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arrested development Recently, Arrested Development returned to the air after seven years of wearing the all-too-common “cult classic that was cancelled by Fox” badge. This riches-to-rags story follows the fictional Bluth family and the cast includes notables such as Michael Cera, Will Arnett, Jason Bateman, and Portia de Rossi.

What’s notable about this release, however, is not only did the show come back with its original cast after being cancelled, but also that it was relaunched on Netflix. The streaming and DVD rental service licensed the rights to a fourth season for Arrested Development as part of their new push to include original programming as part of their offerings.

Like other Netflix-only series that were recently released, Arrested Development was offered to views in its entirety when launched. Viewers can binge-watch the entire season in one sitting or choose to spread out the episodes over time based on their own schedule. So far, fans are underwhelmed. Netflix’s stock has dropped, and critics have given the season mixed reviews.

But perhaps more importantly than the success of this one series is the notion that Netflix is changing how consumers think about TV, which has a ripple effect across all forms of entertainment. Certainly, this has implications for the Web TV community.

Thinking About Entertainment Advertising Differently

The traditional way of monetizing entertainment (specially anything episodic) is to have commercials throughout. Yes, some shows also do product placement and other forms of monetization, but commercials are the bread and butter.

With a show like Arrested Development steaming on Netflix, however, you don’t have those traditional commercial breaks. Let’s be honest, ever since the introduction of DVRs, commercials haven’t been reaching as many people anyway. But Netflix’s original program forces advertisers to think outside the box.

This is great news for web series producers. Some shows have “commercial breaks,” but online, people aren’t as tolerant of any kind of disruption in entertainment. So, producers have had to be creative with monetization – and ad companies aren’t always ready for that kind of thinking.

If more big-name shows like Arrested Development force advertisers to think outside the box, they may also be open to creative deals with others in the web TV community.

I Want What I Want and I Want it Now

One of the major criticisms I’ve seen about what Netflix is doing is that it takes the conversation out of television when entire series are presented at once. And it is true that after each episode of a popular TV show, the web is buzzing with fans talking about it on Twitter, Facebook, and platforms like GetGlue. The next day, the same is true at the water cooler at work. People are talking about the latest episode and anticipating next week’s developments.

You just don’t get this with Netflix. Some rabid fans of a popular series will watch over the course of a day or two, depending on how many episode are in the series and how long each episode lasts. A good majority will finish in the first week or two, and even more in the first few months. But everyone is on their own schedule. Fans might even refrain from talking about the series at all due to worries about spoilers.

But on the other side, people have an increasing “I want what I want and I want it now” type of attitude about all things. Allowing the consumer to dictate the speed at which a show’s series is watched plays into this hand.

This also allows more people to become fans. I don’t know about you, but I often watch the first episode or two of a series, then forget it’s on. If my DVR is full, I might never watch it again, even though I liked what I saw originally. This kind of “all at once” presentation avoid the problem of people forgetting about a show between weeks, so more fans may develop over time.

Is it the right choice? I’m not sure. But if you’re a web series producer, it’s a question you should be considering. Arrested Development has such a big built-in fan base that it’s a great case study for presentation methods.

Bigger Deals for Smaller Shows?

As Netflix continues to experiment with presenting shows in a non-traditional way, you can bet that everyone will be watching. Could this be the start of a wave of bigger deals for smaller shows?

Or, will it mean that big-budgets shows will invade the web space?

Or maybe a combination of both?

If you produce web series, be part of the conversation instead of just allowing it to happen around you. The silver screen entertainment world is changing drastically, so now’s the time to try new techniques for presenting your content and thinking outside the box when trying to attract both viewers and advertisers.

What do you think launches like Arrested Development mean for the web TV world? Leave a comment below.

Image: Netflix.com

Is Social Media Making People Angrier at Netflix?

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This week, Netflix announced some pretty big changes in what was a sort-of apology letter. I don’t think people reacted the way the company hoped they would react. Of the thousands of comments, tweets, and other mentioned people have been making about the idea of having two movie services, I’d say that a good 90% of them (maybe more?) are negative. At least from what I’ve seen.

Maybe that widespread negativity is social media’s fault.

Companies like Netflix have always made (arguably) bone-headed moves. Some survived. Others failed due to their poor business decisions. Today, with the popularity of social media, I think companies have to worry a lot more about that risk of failure.

Let’s say that social media didn’t exist, at least not in the fast-paced, world-connecting way it exists today. Netflix doesn’t announce its changes with a blog post – they simply send everything via an email or maybe even a real letter, explaining the decision and apologizing for past decisions that didn’t go over very well. Now, your gut reaction might be “this sucks” just like it was when you read the blog post that the company actually published. But what do you do about it?

Maybe you simply quit using the service. This is certainly still an option, even if there is no way to tweet about it.

Maybe you talk about it around the water cooler. You discover that your friends are po’ed about it too, and you feel a sense of comraderie. Hey! We all hate Netflix! Woo!

But maybe, and probably pretty likely, you just grumble about it, throw the letter away or delete the email, and live with the decision that the company makes.

Without social media, there’s no way to really connect with other people who are feeling upset about a business decision the same way you are. You’re limited to your co-workers or friends and family, which is, for most people, a group of way less than 100. You might voice your opinions, but there’s no way to kind of…organize, I guess is a good way to put it. Protesting a company’s business decision is still possible without social media, but a boycott is a lot less likely, especially over something like movie rentals.

And perhaps, because you aren’t connecting with others who feel the same way, in our no-social-media fake world, you also feel less emotional about things. Sure, you might have that initial angry reaction, but without people constantly talking about it and voicing their anger as well, will you continue to stay mad? Or will that anger fade? I’m guessing that the latter is true for most people.

Social media making people angrier sounds like bad thing, but I think it is actually a positive. I’m reminded of the quote, “People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.” I think the same is true for businesses. Large or small, businesses should be catering to their customers, rather than customers having no say and simply being forced to live with whatever decisions a company makes. We’ve always had buying power, using our dollars to support (or not support) a company, but now, with social media, we have more of a collective power to really make a difference as consumers. And yes, that should scare Netflix and any other company out there not listening to what the average customer is saying.

Will Netflix (and Qwikster) survive? The jury is out. But what I do know is that people are still talking about this issue, where as before the advent of social media, the chatter would have died down significantly. The great thing about social media is that a company like Netflix also has the opportunity to listen. Social media might be making people angrier, but it is also a tool for companies to better connect with consumers, just as consumers better connect with one another. Only time will tell if Netflix chooses to use that tool.

So what do you think? Is social media making people angrier at companies like Netflix?

Netflix’s Qwikster Twitter Dilemma and Letter from the CEO

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Netflix has been in the news quite a bit lately between their pricing changes and now the announcement their DVD delivery service is changing names.

Netflix’s DVD delivery service will now be called Qwikster, which is “coming soon”. The company CEO Reed Hastings said they chose that name because of their quick delivery of the DVDs. I’ll get more into the name change in a minute.

But first, this new name change causes a bit of a dilemma for Qwikster in terms of securing a Twitter name. @Qwikster is already taken by a Jason Castillo, who mainly tweets about girls, weed and words I can’t post here without adding lots of *****. His profile picture is that of Elmo smoking weed. I’ll refrain from posting any of his tweets here.

With the Netflix name change to Qwikster, Jason’s Twitter account has quickly gained more followers, obviously from people thinking they are following the new Netflix. He hasn’t posted since August 16th, so we’re not even sure if he is aware of what’s going on.

Do you think Netflix will try to secure this Twitter handle for themselves? It will be interesting to see what happens next, don’t you think?

Now, about the Netflix name change and splitting their business in two. Did you wake up to an email from Netflix CEO Reed Hastings this morning? Me too. It’s an apology letter of sorts, but also explains the reasoning behind all of the changes.

For those of you who don’t know what’s going on, in short, Netflix is splitting their business in two. Netflix will only handle streaming movies, while Qwikster is now the new name for their DVD delivery service. As Hastings said in the email, “many members felt we lacked respect and humility in the way we announced the separation of DVD and streaming and the price changes.”

He went on to explain what they’re doing and why, and ends the email with “Both the Qwikster and Netflix teams will work hard to regain your trust. We know it will not be overnight. Actions speak louder than words. But words help people to understand actions.”

You can see his longer explanation of everything on the Netflix blog here.

As businesses grow, they obviously have to go through changes, but has Netflix handled anything well? Sound off in the comments and let us know what you think!

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