An interesting Development

The Bluths to go online

Every episode of American sitcom Arrested Development is to put online for free.

The comedy about the corrupt, incompetent but successful Bluth family won critical pundits – but only a modest, if dedicated, audience when it aired on the Fox network.

But now all three series are to appear on Microsoft’s MSN website until 2009. They will be streamed for free, but carry adverts that cannot be skipped.

Normally programmes are sold on for exclusive syndication for cable channels after their network runs are over. But the limited fan base, and the fact that ‘only’ 53 episodes were made when channels normally want at least 100, means this was unlikely for Arrested Development.

So producers came up the unique deal to air the multiple Emmy-winning show online, and on cable channels HDNet and G4

MSN says it will be creating an interactive online home for the episodes, all of which will be available at once.

Rob Bennett, MSN's general manager of entertainment and video services, said: ‘The beauty of distributing an entire series online - especially a series like Arrested, where the audience is so passionate - is that we can build an immersive world around the show.

‘We want to build something where fans will feel at home. This is a very large deal for us.’

MSN will have the rights from September, but won’t go live until later in the year, to give time for the website to be built.

There had been rumours that Arrested Development might be picked up by either the Showtime or ABC networks after Fox dropped it in January, but these came to nothing.

Published: 27 Jul 2006

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