According to a new interview, the streaming service decides what programs to acquire based on what viewers like to steal.
Netflix celebrated its launch in the Netherlands this week, promising to bring its increasingly varied and comprehensive library of programming to the new region. But just how does the company decide what shows to purchase? Well, the answer may surprise you. It turns out that in order to gauge viewer interest in potential content, Netflix actually turns to online pirates.
"With the purchase of series, we look at what does well on piracy sites," said Kelly Merryman, Vice President of Content Acquisition, in an interview with the Dutch technology website Tweakers. She also added that their recent purchase of the television show 'Prison Break' was partly based on its popularity among BitTorrent users.
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings elaborated on the topic in a separate interview, stating, "Certainly there’s some torrenting that goes on, and that’s true around the world, but some of that just creates the demand." Aimed at being a legal alternative to unlawful pirating, Netflix hopes that by offering the same kind of in demand content through the convenience of their user friendly service they can somehow sway pirates away from stealing. "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," said Hastings.
While I'm sure the irony of this strategy isn't lost on anyone involved, it may actually be working. According to another interview with Hastings conducted in May, BitTorrent traffic in Canada has gone down substantially since the introduction of Netflix.
Of course, if this keeps up, how will the streaming service figure out how to purchase new shows in the future? Walmart DVD thefts?