Between a traveling banana stand, a Seamless promotion that went viral and Tobias Fünke's sizzle reel, Netflix has made the fourth season of "Arrested Development" the most highly anticipated original show ever to premiere on the media service.
And when the show's next 15 episodes become available early Sunday morning, it's expected to become the streaming site's most-watched original Netflix series since "House of Cards," the political thriller that debuted in February, according to The New York Times.
One industry expert says that more than 5 percent of Netflix bandwidth use at that time may consist of people watching the antics of the Bluth family.
That's a high concentration of people tuning in to one show, considering Netflix has tens of thousands of titles available for streaming in the U.S.
Typically, about a third of the entire Internet's bandwidth is devoted to Netflix streaming on a given weeknight. The influx of devoted "Arrested Development" fans probably won't increase that share significantly, said Cam Cullen, the vice president of global marketing at Procera, a company that monitors networks and Internet service providers.
"I wouldn't be surprised if on Sunday morning or afternoon there was more Netflix traffic than normal, but I don't expect that suddenly Netflix is going to be 80 percent of [Internet] traffic," he said.
Cullen based his prediction in part on Procera's analysis of traffic levels after the debut of "House of Cards." He found that on one network, streams of the show accounted for nearly "5 percent of overall Netflix bandwidth usage."
"I do expect, frankly, with 'Arrested Development' the percentage to be higher," said Cullen. "It was such a cult show that people followed, and I think there's a lot of pent up demand for it ... and I'm pretty sure that we'll see more than just 5 percent of the traffic being 'Arrested Development.'"
Netflix hopes that "Arrested Development" -- and the other original content it's producing -- will drive even more people to sign up for a $7.99 monthly subscription. Currently, the service has more than 29 million subscribers in the United States, 2 million of whom signed up last quarter, when "House of Cards" premiered.
Reed Hastings, the CEO of Netflix, is investing $200 million this year in original programming, according to the Associated Press.
Netflix is notoriously tight-lipped about its stats and wouldn't say how many members it expects will tune in when the fourth season of "Arrested Development" goes online. But a spokesperson said that Netflix "will have a room full of people to monitor and ensure that the show is available and streaming," something the company does for any big show or service upgrade.
The 15 episodes of "Arrested Development's" fourth season will become available to all of Netflix's 36 million members -- in 40 countries -- at 12:01 a.m. Pacific time on May 26.