Whether you found the new "Arrested Development" entertaining or not, there was decent marketing support for Netflix's latest original TV effort -- TV commercials, digital display, and other media. It seems that people did actually view one or more episodes in large numbers.
Perhaps a lesson can be learned here: New digital platforms need to spend a lot more to convince consumers they have content they might want to watch. Netflix ran a similar campaign back in February for the drama "House of Cards" -- another original TV effort.
Entertainment marketing can be a tough play these days -- and it's especially difficult to rise above all the other entertainment noise. Netflix now uses the likes of its original content -- among other efforts -- to drive its business.
Tell me -- shouldn't YouTube, Hulu Plus, other digital movie/TV service or digital video platforms be doing the same thing?
You might get the argument that it is hard to justify a big spend in marketing dollars on a little 4- to-5-minute digital video series. Proponents of such entertainment will go further in telling you this isn't necessary -- that the digital video market doesn't need that type of old-school marketing buzz. Then you look up and see that Universal Studios' "Fast & Furious 6" took in an eye-popping $120 million on its opening weekend, while Walt Disney's "Iron Man 3" pulled in $1.5 billion worldwide.
New digital video sites will also say they can't justify big marketing dollars against new TV/video/movie efforts. And yes -- it doesn't always work out the way you think.
TV critics were at best mixed in their reviews over the new episodes of "Arrested." For "House of Cards," however, reviews were very favorable. So Netflix is one for two in this regard -- and that would be, of course, a better batting average that anything on the broadcast networks and to a lesser extent on the cable networks.
Netflix seems to be following in the HBO-school of marketing TV show -- where a pay TV service used big-time media and marketing to get the word out for its special, original programming -- as well as getting favorable reviews. Early on, HBO was kind of like Netflix in one way -- not revealing its viewership metric. (HBO has since changed its ways to some extent).
In keeping with its previous declarations, Netflix isn't revealing much about "Arrested." However, Ted Sarandos, chief content officer for Netflix, said at a recent conference: “We had extremely high expectations for viewing … and it met our expectations, and we’re thrilled.”
It's true that Netflix isn't much like a free, advertising-supported digital service. Consumers behaviors are very different when it comes to committing to a paid-monthly streaming service. And of course, the business model for Netflix is way different for a free-ad supported digital service.
Still, growing digital video services need to take note. Otherwise they will -- ahem -- experience their own kind of arrested development.