Piracy sites help Netflix to decide what shows to purchase

By on September 16, 2013, 9:00 AM
netflix, piracy, bittorent, internet streaming, tv shows

Netflix has begun its official rollout in the Netherlands. The company’s primary goal is to amass a substantial user base, similar to what it has in the United States. As a result, the Netflix team needs to assess what its viewers want to watch; and one such strategy is to monitor a show’s popularity on piracy sites.

According to TorrentFreak, Netflix understands that pirate sites are quite possibly their biggest competitor. After all, people have no need to subscribe to a streaming service when identical content is freely available on the web. But those looking for a legal alternative certainly appreciate the convenience Netflix provides.

“Netflix is so much easier than torrenting. You don’t have to deal with files, you don’t have to download them and move them around. You just click and watch,” explained Netflix CEO Reed Hastings.

So when Netflix is shopping around for a new series to pick-up, they take a look at what’s popular on local BitTorrent networks. For example, Netflix recently bought the rights to Prison Break; a series which Kelly Merryman, VP of Content Acquisition, says is “exceptionally popular on piracy sites.”

Although pirate sites might initially be considered Netflix’s main rival, they’re also potentially keeping them afloat. Not only does illegal content create demand for better quality content, but it puts television networks in a difficult spot. Fully knowing that users can simply download their programs for free, it’s sometimes better for the cable company to strike a deal with an established streaming service, even if its profits are undercut by the middleman.

That being said, Netflix doesn’t exactly have an easy time trying to secure licensing rights, either. For instance, even though Game of Thrones is currently the most pirated TV show on the planet, HBO refuses to relinquish any of its rights to Netflix.

Either way you look at it, the impact that Netflix has had on the pirating industry is profound. After launching the service to Canada just three years ago, the nation’s BitTorrent traffic has dropped by an astounding 50%. It’ll be interesting to see if Netflix can recreate these results in the Netherlands and beyond.




User Comments: 10

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NTAPRO NTAPRO said:

50% drop? Wow.

MilwaukeeMike said:

Not only does illegal content create demand for better quality content, but it puts television networks in a difficult spot. Fully knowing that users can simply download their programs for free, it?s sometimes better for the cable company to strike a deal with an established streaming service, even if its profits are undercut by the middleman.

This idea is based on the assumption that Netflix and piracy are of equal enjoyment to the user. For many, a pirated show must be watched on the computer, whereas Netflix can come through the Blu-ray on the TV. It's also a lot easier to click and watch rather than wait for a download from a site.

The problem Netflix has however is how long it takes for new shows to become available. Piracy will always have the upper hand if you're watching a current show.

1 person liked this | Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

This is the cleverest thing a streaming company has done.

Guest said:

Is it free? Because if its not torents always win. Not to mention they have streaming options and they even work most of the time.

insect said:

[Quote]?Netflix is so much easier than torrenting. You don?t have to deal with files, you don?t have to download them and move them around. You just click and watch,? explained Netflix CEO Reed Hastings.

What? Really? Maybe for your grandma. Sorry, but a few key commands and clicks later about ~20 min/2 GB on a download and I have whatever I wanted. It's easier than using your crummy search box and waiting for buffers/whatever cause of high demand. Oh, and it's mostly free (I pay for the internet connection which I would have regardless of piracy). Also, as Mike said - Instantly available (even before Blu-ray release because of leaked copies from the factories). If you must have it even more instantly, cam-versions are also available (although most are crap).

And as Mike also said, while most have to watch on PC, some of us have media-PCs setup for this reason. Blu-Ray/DVD/Game consoles always out of date and have to upgraded. One good media PC and you're set for all formats forever - so long as you have the latest codecs/VLC player.

Rather spend my money on the best sound/picture/theater than on a format that will be obsolete in a decade.

AccordXTC said:

Really insect lol its breaking the law is the part you missed out on vs Netflix. I was thinking with your thought on this maybe I shouldn't work a 9-5 job rather rob banks because hey its easier that way and I'm set for life.

The point to the story is how they get new content and its legal.

Oh and the thought of a HTPC, you don't think they get out of date as things move on.

insect said:

Really insect lol its breaking the law is the part you missed out on vs Netflix. I was thinking with your thought on this maybe I shouldn't work a 9-5 job rather rob banks because hey its easier that way and I'm set for life.

The point to the story is how they get new content and its legal.

Oh and the thought of a HTPC, you don't think they get out of date as things move on.

Yes, there is that I suppose. And for good movies, I do pay to see them in theaters which beat my home theater still (bigger screen/sound). I generally see on average, one movie a month and pirate one a month. I wont even pirate really bad ones, just ones that I thought I might be interested in, but don't want to spend a minimum of $12 on. Even Netflix at $8/month isn't cheap enough for be worth it, because as I said... only about one a month worth seeing. I had Netflix, cancelled because I didn't use it enough.

As for your bank robbing analogy... It's all about risk vs reward. Piracy = little to no risk (with proper proxies) = little reward (~2 hrs of mind-numbing media goodness). If there were no risk in robbing a bank also, then yea, I probably would instead of working.

9Nails, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I've never had a problem with Netflix. It works great on my ipad, PS3, computers. Never had image quality issues or streaming / buffering issues. It has been as reliable as sunshine.

JC713 JC713 said:

This doesnt surprise me haha. Ever since Netflix hiked up its prices, it has become less attractive to many.

Lateralus462 Lateralus462 said:

My PC is around 8 years old and I have no problems streaming content from my computer to my television. A far cry from forever, but I'm sure he was exaggerating his point slightly. Also, lets not use the analogy of robbing a bank to online pirating as they are completely different. That in no way means online piracy is necessarily OK, simply that with piracy, no tangible object is being removed from someones possession.

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