When Netflix goes out to get the rights for popular movies and TV shows, they don’t just look at what people are talking about or excited for. Netflix also looks at another valuable source of information: What’s popular on piracy sites?
Although somebody who is pirating a TV show or movie instead of watching it on Netflix isn’t actually helping the company directly, the insight that it gives them as to what’s popular and what’s in demand at the moment is certainly very useful. Netflix recently rolled out its streaming service in the Netherlands, and one of the shows that it licensed due to high piracy locally is Prison Break. “Prison Break is exceptionally popular on piracy sites,” according to Kelly Merryman, who is the company’s Vice President of Content Acquisition.
In addition to giving information on what content they should acquire next, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings also believes that the piracy also eventually creates demand for the service’s offerings. He believes that the actual user experience that they offer is much more convenient for users compared to torrenting. I’d have to agree, as choosing a show and instantly streaming it is definitely much faster.
Eventually, Netflix’s aim is to convert people that would normally download content without permission into paying subscribers. And according to Hastings, this is actually happening. There is reportedly evidence that BitTorrent traffic in Canada has dropped by 50 percent since the service began offering their content there.
But at the end of the day, it’s going to come down to the actual content they can license and the restrictions placed in other regions of the world. If someone outside of the United States wants to watch Game of Thrones without having to wait an ungodly amount of time, piracy might be the only option for them.