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How Netflix prepared for the release of 'Arrested Development'

Social mobility isn't always a story of rags to riches.  The show "Arrested Development" is about the dysfunctional Bluths, who loses their fortune after a corporate accounting scandal. The show was canceled by FOX in 2006, but demand for the show's return resulted in a deal for 14 new episodes to be released on Netflix in May 2013.

Netflix has been betting big on original programming — from "House of Cards" to "Hemlock Grove" and now the highly anticipated "Arrested Development."

Numbers haven't been released by Netflix itself, but the company says they're promising. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Netflix’s chief content officer Ted Sarandos said "viewing is much more on par with large-scale mainstream things like 'The Walking Dead.'"

The streaming service released "Arrested Development" on Memorial Day weekend, probably in the hopes that viewers would binge watch the show and skip Monday barbecues. This strategy paid off with "House of Cards" -- Netflix claims two million new subscribers signed up near the show's release.

But even in the middle of the night, would Bluth family fans and never-nudes clog Netflix's system? Jeremy EdbergLead Reliability Engineer at Netflix, addressed the issue in a the following post on Quora.

This is not much different from other launches, be it titles or technology features. We continuously release new shows and movies on Netflix, and we have a lot of experience doing that.

The beauty of the system is that it doesn't matter what someone is watching, only that they are watching.  Another nice side effect is that if an existing customer is watching AD it means they aren't watching something else, so we've already accounted for them.  The only additional load will be from new users.  All of our frontend systems use auto-scaling on AWS, so as more people watch, the systems will scale up automatically, and are designed to scale and deliver a great experience.

Another thing we have going for us is that the episodes will be released at midnight pacific, so many people will be asleep, except the most hard-core fans.

[...]

And if something unexpected happens, all of the teams are on high alert to jump on issues as soon as they can, despite the holiday weekend, just like we do with any high profile title or feature release. :)

In short, your banana treats were safe, and the midnight release was a way to keep the hard-core fans happy, and get mediocre fans streaming (eventually).

About the author

P. Kim Bui is a journalist focusing on social media and digital. You can follow her on Twitter at @kimbui.

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