Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Netflix Reboots “Arrested Development” with an Exclusive Streaming Deal

Yes, Netflix is still writing checks for new content deals: The video service is reviving “Arrested Development,” a canceled-but-beloved Fox comedy, confirming rumors that have circulated for the past few months.

Netflix will foot at least part of the bill for an unspecified number of new episodes, which will be produced by News Corp.’s 20th Century Fox studio (News Corp. also owns this Web site) and will start running in 2013. The new shows will be exclusive to Netflix streaming video subscribers, at least for its initial “window.”

That fits the content strategy CEO Reed Hastings has been laying out for a while: He wants to create an $8-a-month version of HBO, delivered over the Web, stocked with stuff you can’t get anywhere else.

That’s why Hastings has spent the last year or so cobbling together a slate of exclusive movie deals (like a recent DreamWorks pact) and TV shows (like a recent deal with CW), and that’s why he’s already committed to a deal to produce “House of Cards,” a new Kevin Spacey/David Fincher miniseries next year. At the same time, he is losing a Starz deal that gave him access to movies from Sony and Disney.

Netflix has been noodling with the notion of using digital distribution to revive dormant TV shows or extend the life of ones that are about to be canceled, for some time.

Others are contemplating the same thing: Producer Jeff Kwatinetz, for instance, is trying to get financing to film new episodes of two ABC soaps — “All My Children,” which went off the air in September; and “One Life to Live,” which goes off the air in January.

Saving old shows that couldn’t generate enough viewers to justify a broadcast network’s support, but which still have a loyal following, has particular appeal to Netflix. The company’s executives believe they can “algorithmically bring an audience to a show,” using recommendation engines, over an extended period of time.

In this case, the company is bringing back a show that’s been off the air for five years, but which still has a very vocal fan base. In October, show creator Mitchell Hurwitz said that “nine or 10″ new episodes of “Arrested Development” were in the works, which would function as a prelude to a to-be-filmed movie.


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Nobody was excited about paying top dollar for a movie about WikiLeaks. A film about the origins of Pets.com would have done better.

— Gitesh Pandya of BoxOfficeGuru.com comments on the dreadful opening weekend box office numbers for “The Fifth Estate.”