Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) is bringing the band back together again. Specifically, the band in question is Dr. Fünke's 100% Natural Good Time Family Band Solution. That's right, Arrested Development fans -- and there are dozens of us: The Bluth family is coming back for a fifth season, and it cannot get here soon enough.
Arrested Development executive producer Brian Grazer recently confirmed on Grantland's "B.S. Report" podcast that 17 more episodes of the cult classic are in the works. The news comes nearly two years after Netflix released the fourth season in May 2013, resurrecting the show after it was dropped by FOX in 2006.
It looks like he's dead
In some ways, the news may not come as a surprise. After all, Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos confirmed in August 2014 to USA Today that Arrested Development would get another season, saying, "It's just a matter of when." The release of season four in 2013 did lead to "a small but noticeable bump in membership," the company said at the time.
It has just been a while since any news about the show has surfaced, testing the patience of loyal followers. Grazer did not offer up much else in the way of specific details such as timing, but at least fans can rest assured that Arrested Development is not dead. Not by a long shot.
Netflix has been making big pushes into international markets in recent years. The company is now hoping to expand service to 200 countries within the next two years. Importantly, Netflix believes it can do this while also maintaining profitability. At the end of 2014, Netflix had 18.3 million total members internationally and expected this figure to rise to 20.5 million by the end of the first quarter.
But Arrested Development's fourth season was only made available to U.S. subscribers. International viewers will have to find another way to get their Bluth fix. That also means that Arrested Development will not do Netflix's international business any favors if the fifth season follows in the same footstep, but the good news is that Netflix has 39.1 million U.S. members.
You've got a stew going
Netflix has made it abundantly clear how important fresh content is to its future, and the company continues to invest heavily in original programming. Some shows are paying more dividends than others, but they are all part of Netflix's broader strategy to differentiate itself and keep subscribers coming back for more.
House of Cards is easily Netflix's highest-profile series, but it has continued to grow its stable of original content spanning a wide array of genres. In fact, Arrested Development is one of the three original shows that can lead to subscriber growth. On the January conference call, Sarandos noted, "House of Cards, Season Two; Orange is the New Black, Season Two; and Arrested Development have been the ones that -- the shows where we've been able to track real measurable subscriber growth with their launches."
What could it cost? Ten dollars?
Content costs are easily one of the most important aspects of Netflix's business and ability to scale. These costs have continued to rise in recent years -- total cost of revenue jumped 20% in 2014 to $3.75 billion. However, the good news is that revenue rose faster, soaring 26% last year to $5.5 billion, translating into gross margin expansion from 29% to 32%.
Netflix enjoys many qualitative benefits from original content, including differentiating its service and strengthening its brand. But the way that Netflix views it, creating original shows is some of its most efficient content, costing less than well-known licensed content relative to the viewing metrics that Netflix actually cares about.
In 2013, the video streamer said it would soon expand into original movies. The first will be a sequel to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, due out later this year.
Arrested Development fans have been clamoring for a movie for years. It is conceivable that, eventually, Netflix will deliver that, too. Come on.
Evan Niu, CFA owns shares of Netflix. The Motley Fool recommends Netflix. The Motley Fool owns shares of Netflix. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.