Netflix has finally announced a Memorial Day weekend release date for the now 15-episode fourth season of Arrested Development, a beloved sitcom with a devoted audience that the streaming service uncancelled for exactly that purpose: a long weekend of obsessive binge-watching that is now a proven money maker. Indeed, when the show debuts on May 26 as a full season all at once, it could even exceed the success of House of Cards, Netflix's first big experiment with original programming. While the company does not release specific data on the viewing habits of its subscribers, the $100 million gamble on Cards appears to have encouraged the type of behavior Netflix wanted — which is to say, back-to-back-to-back episode sessions that may have sunk couch cushions but likely boosted the Netflix bottom line.
During a talk at the AllThingsD conference in February, Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said House of Cards had become the most watched title of anything on Netflix — and that nearly every subscriber who watched one episode went on to watch another. That was for a new series without a cult following like Arrested Development, but other numbers out there seem to confirm that Netflix is onto something. A survey conducted by Cowen and Co. just two weeks after the Cards episode dump in February found that 10 percent of viewers had already seen an average of six of the series' 13 episodes. Third-party Internet traffic monitoring firm Procera also confirmed this addiction: In the first weekend alone, 0.59 percent of Netflix's total North American viewers watched all 13 episodes of House of Cards, according to Variety. That might seem to contradict Netflix's stated goal of luring new subscribers to pay $8 per month for exclusive content, as we explained in this post. It might seem like Netflix would want to string us along with an already beloved show like Arrested Development. But by providing viewers with an entire season, all-new, and all at the same time, Netflix is feeding a machine it built for a reason. Here's why appointment television just got a lot more addictive: