Though yesterday’s sizeable dip in Netflix stock can likely be attributed to several factors that affected investors—worry over increased competition from a possibly Time Warner-owned Hulu; concern over Netflix’s recent loss of 1,800 titles and the entire Viacom library; vengeance for having to listen to their kid cry all morning because they couldn’t watch Dora The Explorer anymore—but the Associated Press has one suggestion you probably haven’t considered, just because it’s ridiculous: Netflix stock plummeted because critics didn’t love the new Arrested Development enough.
“Netflix’s stock fell by more than 6 percent Tuesday as investors reacted to critics’ mixed reviews over the weekend of the first new Arrested Development episodes,” the AP writes in a story that is very much real, and not just a satirical exaggeration of how seriously some people are taking the show’s return. Indeed, it goes on like that, with the AP blaming critics at the New York Times and Variety for reviews that “panned it as a disappointment,” suggesting that “just a whiff of negative sentiment about Arrested Development was enough to spook Wall Street.” And again, this is an actual theory, seriously proposing a correlation between some critics not totally loving Arrested Development, and investors calling up their brokers and yelling, “George Sr.’s subplot drags a bit and there’s not nearly enough Buster—sell, you bastards!”
Diplomatically, the Associated Press also allows for the possibility that, maybe, some critics thinking Arrested Development isn’t as funny as it used to be didn’t have the huge financial impact that only they seem to be suggesting it did. As it notes, predictions regarding Arrested Development-driven subscriber growth won’t actually be proven or disproven until those numbers are released in July, while another quoted analyst uses their professional analyst powers to suggest that critical opinion probably doesn’t matter, so long as subscribers like the show and it continues to “act as a marketing vehicle” for Netflix. The AP also charitably admits that “it’s far too early to know whether Netflix’s latest high-profile foray into original programming will turn out to be a hit or a flop for the company”—though not too early to declare that Netflix stocks fell because Arrested Development wasn’t lauded enough, apparently. In fact, even Forbes and CNN have already jumped on that bandwagon.
Anyway, as it turns out, it’s probably not too early to determine whether the show is a success, at least by Netflix original content standards: Buried in the AP article is a reference to a recent report from Internet traffic monitoring company Procera, which determined that Arrested Development garnered nearly twice as many viewers during its debut weekend as House Of Cards, a show that many, Netflix included, had no problem declaring a hit. In fact, some 36 percent of all Netflix traffic on Sunday was dedicated to watching Arrested Development, compared to just 11 percent for Cards, and even more impressive—if predictable, given its fanbase—around 10 percent of all viewers had watched all 15 episodes by Sunday evening. And by Monday morning, 100 percent of those people had ruined them for their Twitter friends. (Note: Those last figures are based on our own sampling data.)
Of course, it is too early to tell whether the new season will have the replay power of the old ones—which remain among the most-streamed titles on the site—as well as whether those new, Arrested Development-driven subscribers will drop Netflix now that they’ve gotten what they wanted. Also noteworthy is the estimated 100,000-and-growing illegal downloads of the new episodes that appeared within a mere 24 hours of the debut—a number that seems to disprove the cocky (or naïve) assertions of Netflix’s Ted Sarandos that torrent traffic drops as Netflix traffic grows, and suggests piracy will also impact any measure of the show’s “success.” But while we await any actual figures that can actually measure Netflix's return on investment in Arrested Development and its actual effect on the company's financial standing, based on our own analysis, we’re pretty sure this all means the bank is coming to foreclose on your house.