Arrested Development shows us the downside to binge-watching

Arrested Development and the case against binge-watching:

How strange that it already feels too late to talk about the return of Arrested Development. After all, fans waited, and lobbied, and agitated for seven years -before the arrival of a treasure trove of 15 fresh episodes of the cult comedy, and as I write this, it’s been only two weeks since Netflix unveiled them in its signature open-all-your-Christmas-presents-at-once style. But it turns out that even a binge viewer’s paradise has a dark side: If supersizing your TV portions is so great, why does Arrested Development feel so…over? And why didn’t people have more fun with something they wanted so badly and were so happy to get?

Going by the Twitter reactions and the recaps that started to appear just hours after the show was made available, many viewers seem to have taken in too much too fast. Some expressed disappointment at the pacing of the episodes; some objected to a complicated and repetitive story line in which jokes pay off only after circling back to the same event multiple times. I’ll leave that debate to more devoted buffs (I’m a latecomer), but I will point out that if you take in several episodes of anything in a row, the word repetitive will likely come to mind. No wonder many AD fans sounded a bit green around the gills in those first few days, like Cartman overeating until all he can do is gasp, “No…more…pie.”

I’ve been spacing out my viewing of the latest season of Arrested Development – I’m only on episode 4 – and so far, I’ve found that I’m enjoying it more than people who rushed through half a season the day it came out.

Of course, some people genuinely don’t like the new format for the show – it’s very different from the three seasons that ran on Fox. If you liked the original series but haven’t given the fourth season a shot, I recommend watching the first two episodes (the first is rather mediocre by itself) and then giving yourself a few days before trying more.

Netflix’s next market: children

Netflix signs exclusive deal for over 300 hours of original DreamWorks Animation content:

Netflix is to create new shows based on characters from DreamWorks’ feature films, while the studio will open its Class Media library which it acquired in 2012. Having found success with House of Cards and a new series of Arrested Development, Netflix is now looking to children’s shows in order to expand its content selection and cater for one of its most important demographics — although there is no word on whether we will see a new Shrek show or Kung Fu Panda mini-series.

Last year, the company announced it had signed an exclusive deal to bring content from Disney, Marvel, and Pixar movies to the service. Today’s announcement means it now has the two biggest animation studios on board. Netflix will begin airing its original series in 2014, adding animated movies The Croods, Turbo, and Mr. Peabody and Sherman at the same time.

There’s already a ton of kid-friendly content available on Netflix, but having exclusive rights to hundreds of hours of animation from Disney and DreamWorks that has none of the commercials on Disney/Nickelodeon/Cartoon Network basically makes it the most attractive option for parents looking to keep their kids entertained.

Barely anyone is pirating Arrested Development

Few People Are Pirating ‘Arrested Development’ Because Netflix Is Affordable Enough Already:

People love “Arrested Development” so much they’re actually willing to pay for it. Around 100,000 people illegally downloaded the show’s season 4 in the first 14 hours that it appeared on Netflix. Believe it or not, that number is nothing compared to the season premieres of other TV shows, and that likely has to do with the fact that “Arrested Development” was easily and inexpensively available online through the popular streaming-video service.

“Game Of Thrones,” HBO’s beloved fantasy drama, broke BitTorrent’s record with over 1 million downloads in the first 24 hours after the third season began airing in March.

Let people access your content at an affordable price and they’ll actually pay for it. Go figure.

You could go to jail for a year for sharing HBO Go passwords

Even New York Times Is Oblivious To Fact That Sharing ‘HBO Go’ Passwords To Watch ‘Game Of Thrones’ Breaks Law – Forbes:

It was left then to Mike Masnick at TechDirt to point out that Wortham had admitted to violating federal laws, including the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (or CFAA) which has been the target of heated debate given its use in the controversial prosecutions of AT&T iPad hacker Andrew “weev” Auernheimer and public document hacker Aaron Swartz. The CFAA makes it a crime “to obtain without authorization information from a protected computer.” It’s a misdemeanor with a maximum one-year prison sentence. What Wortham describes is unauthorized access, in that it violates the companies’ terms of service.

“[I]f someone is violating Netflix or HBO Go’s TOS to stream they are guilty of a misdemeanor CFAA right off the bat,” says Hanni Fakhoury of the EFF. And if the worth of the stolen information or damage caused in its procurement reaches $5,000 (that’s a lot of HBO episodes!), it could be a felony with multiple potential years of prison time.

It’s awesome how media companies have paid lawmakers to make so many laws that go against common sense.

Netflix CEO teases potential fifth season of Arrested Development

Netflix Ups Investment in New Shows, Teases More Arrested Development:

If you’re wondering how Netflix plans to follow up the success of its original programming like the fourth season of Arrested Development, the answer appears to be “more of the same” — including a tease for a possible fifth season of the Bluth family comedy. But the news isn’t as positive for fans of Firefly and other long-lost cult favorite shows looking for resurrection.

I haven’t gotten very far into the new season of Arrested Development, but I have heard quite a bit about the new format –  from fans and people who’ve been turned off by it alike. It’s not the show we all remember, and there doesn’t seem to be a consensus on whether or not that’s a good thing.

With that said, the show is still damn funny. I’d love to see Netflix give the creative people behind the show another season’s worth of episodes to experiment with.

I was sad to see this though:

He added that fans shouldn’t expect to see any new episodes of other beloved-but-cancelled shows like Joss Whedon’s fan-favorite space western Firefly, since its current audience would be “fewer than the 6 million who watched it [on Fox in 2002].”

It’s unfortunate, but if anyone would have the data to back up such a decision, it’s Netflix.

The rise of shared video streaming accounts

Streaming Sites and the Rise of Shared Accounts – NYTimes.com:

We were each going to use HBO Go, the network’s video Web site, to stream the show online — but not our own accounts. To gain access, one friend planned to use the login of the father of a childhood friend. Another would use his mother’s account. I had the information of a guy in New Jersey that I had once met in a Mexican restaurant.

Our behavior — sharing password information to HBO Go, Netflix, Hulu and other streaming sites and services — appears increasingly prevalent among Web-savvy people who don’t own televisions or subscribe to cable.

I use my a former dorm-floormate’s mother’s HBO Go account. I use my mom’s Netflix account. My friends use my Amazon Prime subscription. From Jenna’s article (and a high-ranking source of my own at the MPAA), it sounds like these companies prefer having many people share subscriptions over having no subscribers at all – and thus don’t plan on cracking down on this behavior. I think it’s a fair middle ground between stopping piracy and providing a decent customer experience. 

Rdio announces video streaming service: Vdio

Introducing Vdio – Rdio Blog — Rdio Blog:

So, what exactly can you watch on Vdio? Everything from the newest releases to cult classics and a whole lot in between from the major studios and networks. Right now, you can watch Skyfall, Life of Pi, Zero Dark Thirty, Lincoln, The Hobbit, and thousands of other hit movies. You can also watch zombie heads explode on The Walking Dead, tune in to the Dowager’s latest quip on Downton Abbey, death-grip your armchair during Homeland, or marvel at the jaw-dropping perfection of Breaking Bad. TV shows are available the day after they air and you can subscribe to seasons at a discount. We plan on adding new titles and bonus content daily, so be sure to check back regularly to see what’s new.

Netflix’s recent Facebook integration has proven to be inconsequential to my usage. Rdio seems to be better at social, but I have a feeling that people prefer subscription to a la carte when it comes to video. If you’re interested in trying, you get $25 in credit for subscribing to Rdio’s $10/month plan.

Update: I agree with Shawn Blanc:

I would say that some sort of amalgamation of the two access models would be great: Paying Vdio a monthly fee to get unlimited access to whatever movies and TV shows that they are able to negotiate with studios, and then the ones which are not available that way you can pay extra to buy or rent.

But then I realize I already have that exact service via Netflix, iTunes, and my Apple TV.

As far as I can see, the only leg up Rdio has over Netflix and iTunes is their social network. As they wrote on their announcement post, some of the advantages to Vdio are the social-esque features such as seeing what your friends are watching, and creating “sets” (a.k.a. playlists for TV shows and movies) that you can then share with people.

Wachowskis working on Sense8, new sci-fi show coming to Netflix in 2014

Hot on the heels of Netflix’s original series House Of Cards, the company has announced that it will release a new sci-fi TV series to the platform called Sense8.
The show is being developed under the guidance of the Wachowskis, who are responsible for smash hits like the Matrix series of films, V for Vendetta, Cloud Atlas and Speed Racer, as well as J. Michael Straczynski who is the creator behind Changeling, Thor, and Babylon 5.

How do I know this is just TechCrunch rewriting a press release? The writer referred to Cloud Atlas and Speed Racer as smash hits.

Ted Sarandos’s strategy for getting the top talent in Hollywood to make shows for Netflix

kevin spacey house of cards netflix

Reed Hastings on Arrested Development, House of Cards, and the Future of Netflix: Movies + TV: GQ:

“The goal,” he says, “is to become HBO faster than HBO can become us.” His seductive pitch to today’s new breed of TV auteurs: a huge audience, real money, no meddlesome executives (“I’m not going to give David Fincher notes”), no pilots (television’s great sucking hole of money and hope), and a full-season commitment.

How to woo talent: give them the money and freedom to make excellent content.

David Fincher’s House of Cards is Netflix’s best show

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ULwUzF1q5w4]

Amazing show. It’s like Bizarro The West Wing – it’s not portraying some ideal government, where the good guys are right on every position and more likable than their opponents. This is a show about power, about  staking a place in the history books. Kevin Spacey’s fourth-wall breaking asides to the camera are always perfectly acted and often darkly hilarious. Netflix needed to prove that it could create content as good or better than the offerings from HBO and AMC, and it looks like they’ve succeeded:

“House of Cards” is sparking thousands of mentions every hour, according to analysis by social media research firm Fizziology. About 62% of the remarks are positive, with negative conversation virtually non-existent.

Most of those expressing mixed views are saying they don’t have time to watch the series.

“This indicates that if they can’t watch it all at once, they may not watch it until they have time to consume more than one or two episodes at a time,” Fizziology President Ben Carlson said. “This might mean that people feel pressured to binge-watch the series.”

Netflix found that its subscribers indulge in these marathon viewing sessions, watching episode after episode — or even entire series — over short periods of time. Complex serialized dramas such as AMC‘s “Mad Men” and “Breaking Bad” have been beneficiaries of this copious TV consumption.