Arrested development netflix
Netflix

Streaming video site's original programming gaining ground on Twitter, Facebook ahead of premieres, according to social research firm

Netflix’s original series appear to be picking up traction in the social sphere — with digital buzz soaring ahead of the May 26 debut of “Arrested Development” to three times the levels earlier this year for “House of Cards,” according to research firm NetBase.

In addition, social fans of “Arrested Development” and Bluth’s Original Frozen Banana Stand have been more upbeat than for other Netflix skeins, NetBase found.

The firm compared comments on Twitter, Facebook, blogs and other sites in the month prior to the debuts on Netflix of “Arrested Development,” “House of Cards” and “Lilyhammer.”

So far, “Arrested Development” has garnered 170,431 social interactions (77% positive, 23% negative) since April 26, compared with 51,045 for “House of Cards” (68% positive, 32% negative) in the 30 days leading up to its Feb. 1 premiere. For “AD,” Jason Bateman (and his character, Michael Bluth) is the most-cited talent, followed by Michael Cera and Tony Hale.

Still, high-profile traditional TV shows have generated even more buzz. For example, in the month before HBO’s “Game of Thrones” season 3 premiere on March 31, NetBase tallied 1.23 million comments (71% positive, 29% negative). And AMC’s “Mad Men” season 6 had 288,605 social mentions (37% positive, 63% negative) in the 30 days before the April 7 debut.

Netflix’s first run at original programming, by contrast, was a mere drop in the social bucket. “Lilyhammer,” starring Steven Van Zandt, generated just 1,857 (70% positive, 30% negative) total mentions prior to its Feb. 6, 2012, bow.

The Internet streaming company, which is bringing back “Arrested Development” for a fourth season after it was canceled by Fox in 2006, has high hopes for the show.

Netflix CFO David Wells, at an investor conference last week, said the ardent, built-in fan base for “Arrested Development” could tip the balance for the company’s second quarter net subscriber adds to be higher than the year-ago period.

That said, “AD” could be sui generis in attracting subscribers, given its cult following. Netflix topper Reed Hastings, in discussing Q1 2013 results, said that “House of Cards” had only a “gentle” effect on subscriber figures.

Moreover, it’s conceivable that aficionados of the show will simply cancel Netflix service after they watch the 15 episodes of what promises to be the final season of “Arrested Development.” As has been its practice, Netflix is making all segs available at once to encourage binge-viewing.

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