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Netflix executives revealed that the website checks the popularity of shows on torrenting sites in order to decide if they pick it up or not.
Vice President of Content Acquisition Kelly Merryman told Tweakers just how these sites weigh in on decisions of show purchases. "With the purchase of series, we look at what does well on piracy sites.” The more illegal downloads a show gets, the more interested the company becomes in obtaining the rights to the show.
Prison Break is one example – it was becoming increasingly popular on BitTorrent and other piracy sites, so Netflix picked up the rights. Another show, Breaking Bad, owes its success and popularity to torrenting sites as well.
Although some may think piracy sites hurt Netflix's business and viewing ratings, the company believes that they only boost competition, and Netflix thinks they have a leg up on their competitors. CEO Reed Hastings said, “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 told Torrent Freak.
Even if some shows do well on copyright infringement sites, Netflix claims that they will not buy live reality shows. "But there are many programmes that we will not buy, such as The Voice. Such live programmes are better suited for live TV,” Merryman stated.
Telegraph even reports that since Netflix opened in Canada, BitTorrent's business has been cut in half since its start in 2010.
Eddy Leviten, a spokesman for the Federation Against Copyright Theft, on the other hand, reported to BBC News that piracy rights only hurt shows' revenues, which “makes it harder to justify further investment in exciting new shows or the next series of hit shows and will ultimately reduce the choice available to viewers worldwide."
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons