‘Arrested Development’ Surpasses ‘House of Cards’ as Netflix’s Biggest Hit

The resurrection of cult favorite Arrested Development on Sunday has given Netflix its biggest hit yet. According to technology company Procera Networks, which measures broadband usage, one DSL network had 36 percent of devices watching Netflix on Sunday night when the company released 15 new episodes of the Mitch Hurwitz comedy. That was three times the number for Netflix previous high-profile original entry House of Cards.

And preliminary numbers from Procera show that 10 percent of viewers watched to episode 15 – underscoring the binge viewing propensity of streaming users.

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"Xbox and PS3s generated the most traffic for Arrested Development on fixed line networks,” according to Cam Cullen, vice president of global marketing at Procera. “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."

In fact, Arrested Development represented 10 percent of all Netflix traffic on one U.S.-based college network. [Procera won't say which one.] Not surprisingly, the show peaked Sunday on Netflix when it generated twice the traffic seen on Monday with a range of 2 to 7 percent of total Netflix traffic on various networks being directly attributable to Arrested Development.

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Netflix does not release streaming data for its programs. But Arrested Development has a built-in audience of fans who have long been pining for new episodes of the show. And the fourth season coming years after it was canceled by Fox generated considerable early buzz. In the month before its May 26 bow, Arrested Development notched more than 170,000 social interactions on Twitter, Facebook and other sites, according to research firm NetBase. Of those, 77 percent were positive while only 23 percent were negative.

Comparatively, House of Cards earned a little more than 51,000 interactions with 68 percent positive and 32 percent negative. And Lilyhammer, Netflix's first original series released in February 2012, generated just 1,857 social interactions. Still Arrested Development's social interactions are a fraction of some of the buzzy shows airing on linear television. NetBase tallied 1.2 million for HBO's Game of Thrones in the month before the show's third season premiere last March.

Marisa Guthrie