You’re gonna get some hop-ons,” a competition sponsored by Netflix in which Arrested Development fans submitted user generated content for a chance to win a walk-on role on the show. Apart from its comedic value, this video demonstrates how much has changed since AD’s cancellation. During its first run, social media was still in an early phase of development, and most online fan participation was limited to rudimentary forums such as this.
Today, however, online fan engagement has taken on additional forms. The website for the aforementioned contest relies on a sophisticated user interface that distributes graphic user generated content in a manner rather similar to Pinterest, a popular photo sharing social network. As per the prompt of the contest, fans expressed their appreciation for the show in a manner arguably more immersive and elaborate than they previously could in online forums. These submissions ranged from stop-motion videos uploaded to Youtube to clever tribute sites that make reference to various inside jokes from the show. Furthermore, while the impact remains to be seen, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has stated that Netflix will be releasing social features later this year, which could further evolve the viewing experience. Although much of the initial press coverage concerning Netflix’s social features focused on the fact that Netflix may be able to publish user viewing behaviors on Facebook, another potentially important implication lies in the fact that Netflix may integrate it’s video player into the Facebook app, enabling fans to talk to each other on Facebook chat while watching shows or movies.
Though the future of AD and social video remains to be seen, there will always be money in the banana stand.