SAN FRANCISCO -Netflix is hoping this weekend's release of the resurrected TV series "Arrested Development" will draw more subscribers to its Internet video service.
The award-winning show about the dysfunctional Bluth family returns Sunday, seven years after Fox cancelled the series.
The revival coincides with Netflix's own resounding comeback from a customer backlash over price increases and shareholders' worries about rising expenses. The adversity had raised doubts about the company's management and future.
Now, Netflix is winning back subscribers and investors with a bold attempt to establish its $8-per-month service as a home entertainment powerhouse that rivals the broadcast television networks and premium cable channels such as HBO.
"Arrested Development," a comedy that won six Emmy awards during a critically acclaimed three-year run, is the third exclusive series from Netflix Inc. this year. It's part of Netflix's effort to add more original programming to a selection that consists primarily of old TV series and movies.
With 29.2 million U.S. subscribers -far more than the 21.9 million TV subscribers that leading cable provider Comcast Corp. has - Netflix has already reshaped home entertainment.
The service is encouraging more people to forgo cable and satellite TV service and rely on Netflix to watch popular TV series a year or more after they originally were shown. Netflix also is empowering viewers to watch an entire season of a TV series in a matter of days instead of months.
By bringing back "Arrested Development" this weekend, Netflix is also trying to prove that people still want to see quality entertainment even when the weather is getting nicer and the days are growing longer. That runs counter to the philosophy of broadcast TV networks, which for decades have typically started the new seasons of their top TV series in September and stopped showing new episodes just before Memorial Day weekend.
The first three seasons of "Arrested Development" were being watched by so many subscribers that Netflix knew another season would be well-received by its existing audience and would likely lure new subscribers, too.
Like Netflix's previous series, all 15 new episodes of "Arrested Development" will be released simultaneously to allow viewers to watch the show as if they were perusing a book and deciding how many chapters to pore through in a single sitting.
"Arrested Development" is scheduled to be available at 12:01 a.m. Tucson time Sunday, meaning Netflix subscribers could conceivably devour the entire season before grilling on Memorial Day afternoon.