On a panel discussion at D: Dive Into Media with Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos and Arrested Development creator Mitch Hurwitz, comedian Will Arnett praised the freedom that the streaming provider is giving creatives building its new slate of original programming.
Netflix is “allowing the creative community to do what they do best,” Arnett said. That freedom is helping to draw creatives who wish to build shows that they wouldn’t be able to develop for network or even cable TV. Hurwitz said that while Arrested Development was being created for the web, the staff was being paid in the same way they would for most network shows, and the show is being made on a similar budget.
“We are absolutely making the show we would have made if we were still at Fox,” Hurwitz said. “There are certain things we’re not going to have… We’re not going to have residuals. But the tradeoff is that we’re encouraged to do a more interesting show, as opposed to flattening it out.”
Arrested Development returns after a multi-year hiatus on May 4, and will count as the second major series to be released as part of Netflix’s ambitious original programming initiative. A few weeks ago, Netflix debuted its Kevin Spacey and David-Fincher led political thriller House of Cards, releasing the entire first season of 13 episodes all in one batch.
The new season of Arrested Development will follow the same distribution model. The show will bring back most of the cast from the original Fox series, with the series picking up several years after Season 3 left off. But all involved believe that the show will do well, thanks to the built-in audience already on Netflix.
Netflix has carried the previous seasons of Arrested Development for years, and Sarandos said that the data shows the audience for the series has only grown with time, as opposed to most shows that are cancelled. What’s more, Hurwitz, Arnett, and Sarandos all agreed that the Netflix subscribers fit squarely in the Arrested Development target demographic.