Netflix Studies Piracy Websites To Determine Future Show Lineups

Netflix uses piracy to help determine what TV shows and movies should be acquired and broadcasted.

While most media companies view copyright infringement as a threat to their business models, Netflix uses piracy to determine what shows and movies its customers are hungry to view.

When Netflix was examining the TV show Prison Break researchers examined how often the show was downloaded and how many sites featured download links for the series.

Netflix’s vice president of content acquisition Kelly Merryman told Tweakers, a Dutch news site:

“With the purchase of series, we look at what does well on piracy sites. Prison Break is exceptionally popular on piracy sites. But there are many prograss that we will not buy, such as The Voice. Live programs are better suited for live TV.”

The fact that Netflix uses piracy to its advantage shouldn’t come as a surprise. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings recently admitted that Netflix attempts to discourage BitTorrent piracy by acquiring popular shows and movies. He noted:

“In Canada BitTorrent is down by 50% since Netflix launched three years ago. But there’s still a lot of people who torrent.”

While piracy helps some shows such as Breaking Bad find its audience, Vince Gilligan tells Digital Spy:

“Piracy is certainly a double-edged sword, It does disincentivise companies from making their products if they feel they can’t earn an honest living off of them, but on the other hand there was an upside to the piracy, because it got the word out in regards to Breaking Bad.”

HBO’s CEO recently said he was “flattered” by piracy because it showcases the overall popularity of the network and its shows and provides incentives for new subscribers to buy a monthly subscription. HBO’S Game of Thrones is the most pirated TV show in the world.

In the meantime Netflix could find itself on the opposite side of the wall. The network is spending hundreds of millions of dollars to secure original programming. The company has already aired House of Cards, Hemlock Grove, and Orange is the New Black among other original shows.

Do you think examining piracy numbers to acquire new TV shows and movies is a smart move by Netflix?