Willa Paskin of Wired dives into the business behind the resurrection of Arrested Development on Netflix:
Whatever our televisual drug of choice—Battlestar Galactica, The Wire, Homeland—we’ve all put off errands and bedtime to watch just one more, a thrilling, draining, dream-influencing immersion experience that has become the standard way to consume certain TV programs. We’ve all had the hit of pleasure after an installment ends on some particularly insane cliff-hanger and we remember that we can watch the next episode right now. It’s a relatively recent addition to the pantheon of slightly illicit yet mostly harmless adult pleasures, residing next to eating ice cream for dinner, drinking a beer with lunch, and having sex with someone you probably shouldn’t.
Yet traditional television networks still apportion their series in weekly episodes over four to eight months, allowing binge-watching only in retrospect, even though, for an increasing number of viewers, binge-watching isn’t just a way to catch up on a season that has already wrapped but a better viewing experience altogether. Why let networks and advertisers get in the way of that? Which may explain what Sarandos says, that the audience for Breaking Bad is bigger on Netflix than it is on AMC. (One of the few hard numbers Netflix has shared is that 50,000 of its subscribers watched all 13 episodes of Breaking Bad’s season four the day before the new season premiered on AMC.)
That audience for Breaking Bad is bigger on Netflix than it is on AMC. Think about that for a second.