Netflix looks at pirate sites before deciding what to buy
Video streaming giant Netflix has revealed that it looks at pirate downloading sites to work out which television series to buy.
It checks the popularity of shows on file-sharing websites when considering whether to buy broadcasting rights, an Netflix executive said.
Speaking ahead of the company's launch in the Netherlands, Netflix Vice President of Content Acquisition Kelly Merryman discussed the role sites such as BitTorrent have in purchase decisions.
"With the purchase of series, we look at what does well on piracy sites,” she said a recent interview with Tweakers.
Explaining the acquisition of rights to the show Prison Break in the Netherlands, she said: "Prison Break is exceptionally popular on piracy sites."
Prison Break is an American television series starring Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell which was broadcast on Fox for four seasons between 2005 and 2009.
Traditionally Netflix, one of world's leading video streaming sites, is seen as a rival provider to sites that offer films and television shows to download without the owners' permission.
Yet recent comments from another Netflix executive, CEO Reed Hastings, suggest that the company can actually benefit from the additional demand created by so-called "torrent sites".
"Certainly there’s some torrenting that goes on, and that’s true around the world, but some of that just creates the demand,” Hastings said.
Netflix can then attempt to upsell some of those users with the offer of better overall watching experience.
“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," he said, according to TorrentFreak.
Indeed three years after Netflix launched in Canada there is evidence that traffic to BitTorrent has halved, according to Hastings.
While Netflix remains heavily reliant on broadcasting shows created by other production companies, it has begun creating its own programmes.
Earlier this year the website premiered the political drama House of Cards starring Kevin Spacey as scheming Congressman Frank Underwood.
The first season's 13 episodes were released all at once for customers to watch immediately. A second season has been commissioned.