'Arrested Development' Season 4 Causes Surge in Broadband Traffic Over Memorial Day Weekend

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May 28th, 2013

Arrested Development Season 4 Cast

Since Netflix does not release data on its programming, the best source for information about the fourth season of Arrested Development, which was released Sunday, is via broadband tracking service Procera. Here are some highlights from its blog post about the launch.

via press note:

Arrested Development had serious social networking buzz before the launch and due to a built-in audience that fondly remembered the series during it’s original run, expectations were high. From our perspective, the launch was a success, and did have a noticeable affect on network traffic.

Here are a few highlights from the viewing stats:

-       One DSL network had an astounding 36% of devices watching Netflix on Sunday watch at least part of one episode of Arrested Development. This was over 3x the number we saw for House of Cards (which had 11% viewing).

-       Preliminary numbers show about 10% of viewers made it to Episode 15 on Sunday/Monday (More on this later today as we get data collated).

-       One cable network saw a jump in Netflix traffic peak volumes of 10% on Sunday over the previous Sunday, with a corresponding 8% jump in the number of subscribers accessing Netflix overall. Even though this was a holiday weekend, Arrested Development was a significant contributor to that traffic jump.

-       Peak usage for Arrested Development on Netflix on Sunday was twice that traffic seen on Monday, with a range of 2-7% of total Netflix traffic on various networks being directly attributable to Arrested Development.

-       Arrested Development made an appearance on European mobile networks, with one operator seeing ~.01% of overall active subscribers accessing Arrested Development through their PC/Mac systems. This is significant even though the total subscriber counts were low because this was an “unlimited” operator, where Netflix is a much smaller portion of the traffic than on fixed line networks. I suspect much of this was for Fixed Mobile Substitution, where the customer only has a mobile broadband connection and skips a fixed line connection.

-       Arrested Development represented 10% of all Netflix traffic on one University network in the US.

-       Xbox and PS3s generated the most traffic for Arrested Development on fixed line networks. This is pretty common on most networks, with consoles usually being the favored Netflix viewing device, as well as supporting the highest resolution streaming today.

-       There was significant file sharing activity for the Arrested Development episodes, even though this was a streaming only, DRMed connection.

As you might expect, we saw a pattern of episodes appearing on the network as people cycled through the series, with Episode 1 starting early, and other episodes coming on later in the day, indicating that most people watched them in order. We did not get the monitoring in place until around 9:30AM as you can see, but we saw the episodes appear at a pretty regular pace throughout the day. Here is a timeline from one of our networks when the episodes first made an appearance by generating traffic on the network:

  • Luke

    I loved this season, still only 6 episodes in, but I’m saving up the back 8 for this weekend. One thing I can’t get over is how much Portia de Rossi face has changed, she looked like a different person, I had to pause and double check…. But apart from that it’s shaping up to be an amazing series and Kristen Wiig is fantastic as young Lucile.

  • james

    i bet fox is kicking themselves for originally cancelling this.

  • poddsocks

    season 4 starts rough but comes together amazingly. c’mon season 5.

  • Samunto

    Get your facts straight. The stock falling was because of fear of more services offering VOD and hence the market getting crowded. Read it online on Deadline and other sources!

  • Colin

    I hate the word flop in TV shows b/c it’s so stupid, just like the people who say them on here…

  • Ted Craig


    I doubt that very much. It never had the ratings to justify keeping it on broadcast TV. This is a very different business model.

  • gerry

    @ colin

    agreed. its annoying as well as completely unimaginative. i feel like the people that say flop all the time are really just describing themselves…..

  • xwiseguyx

    I have noticed a few issues during peak viewing periods where I could not watch the show as it was saying to try again later. (Wasn’t an internet issue either..) Hope this isn’t a sign of things to come where Netflix can’t handle the traffic.

  • Andrew

    @FLOP Detector
    It was yanked before it fully caught on. What’s sad is shows today with worse ratings than Arrested Development back then get renewed. Fox should have brought it back after the DVD sales came in (like Family Guy) and its ratings today would have close to Modern Family or at least The Office or New Girl.

  • TGS

    Streaming only, DRMed connection.


    Didn’t work.

  • Rebecca

    So, I was wrong about there not being any more episodes past the 4 season – Netflix might do more. An online article from May 30th (at allvoices.com) says this (just sharing): ‘”We don’t anticipate being able to do seasons five, six, seven. We have less of a stake in it,” Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said months ago. “‘Arrested Development’ is a wildly successful tactic as opposed to fundamental to the strategy.”
    However, the company quickly changed their tune as attention mounted.
    “We’re hopeful there will be more seasons,” a spokesperson later said, walking back Hastings’ statements. “If anyone can pull it together, it’s going to be Ted [Sarandos, Netflix’ content officer].
    “Standing in front of this set is a real smile maker for me. My final AD day… for now,” “Arrested Development” star Jason Bateman ominously tweeted.
    Turns out, the release of the fourth season was a huge success. Hastings said “it’s been huge, just as we had hoped,” even though they aren’t releasing official ratings.
    “The reason we’re not doing ratings is because we really want to focus over the first year,” Hastings said this week. “Netflix is about being able to watch when you want, not having to watch at a certain time like linear TV is. So we’re really not focused on the Day One ratings, it’s really over the first year.”
    Now, Hastings is vocally in support of both more “Arrested Development” and more original content on Netflix in general.
    “’Arrested’ is unique, because that’s really up to the talent,” Hastings said. “If the talent were willing to do more, and interested in that, I’m sure we would be willing.”
    Looks like the Bluths might soon be back to work…or at least their trademark laziness that has made them television darlings.’

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