Netflix Head of Content Talks Why Arrested Development Could Make a Comeback, and Other Shows Can’t
the internet is serious business
Netflix is pretty decent when it comes to piracy. In fact they just implemented a measure that makes it easier to share one Netflix account between multiple people. So it’s not surprising to hear their Chief Content Officer, Ted Sarandos, say something like:
I think people do want a great experience and they want access – people are mostly honest. The best way to combat piracy isn’t legislatively or criminally but by giving good options. One of the side effects of growth of content is an expectation to have access to it. You can’t use the internet as a marketing vehicle and then not as a delivery vehicle.
But what’s more interesting to me, in the same interview, is what he says about bringing back old television shows with cult followings, specifically for Netflix, and why we shouldn’t expect new episodes of Twin Peaks, Firefly, or Buffy to show up anytime soon.
Stuff.tv asked Sarandos, “as a fan,” if he’d be interested in reviving Twin Peaks, Jericho, Firefly, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer for Netflix. He easily assented for all three, but added:
Let me give you one broad statement about these recovery shows. In almost every case the cult around the show gets more intense and smaller as time goes by. Arrested Development was the rarest of birds in that the audience of the show grew larger than the original broadcast audience because people came to discover it years after it was cancelled. The Firefly fan is still the Firefly fan from when it was on TV and there’s fewer of them and they’re more passionate every year. Whereas with Arrested Development we’re going to be serving a multiple of the original audience. Any of the other shows we could bring back would be a fraction of the original audience.
It’s an interesting perspective, and one that just makes me long, again, for some impossible method of quantifying the size of a fandom that’s mostly based around online interactions or passive consumption of the fan-created work and projects that can keep an audience for a show alive even when the show is not on the air. I think Sarandos is probably right about the relative size and enthusiasm of the Firefly community vs. the Arrested Development community. From a big business point of view, enthusiasm counts for far less than number of individual viewers, though from the engaged community member’s standpoint, it can make being in that community a lot more fun.