Netflix checks piracy figures to buy the best shows

Netflix checks piracy statistics before buying the rights to a show in order to offer what viewers want to watch and fight piracy at the same time.

Upon launching the service in the Netherlands, the company stated that a key element in buying a TV series for Netflix is working out whether it is being pirated often.

“With the purchase of series, we look at what does well on piracy sites,” Netflix VP of content acquisition Kelly Merryman told Tweakers.

She added that this led them to buy Prison Break for the Dutch market due to the sheer number of times it has been pirated by users in that territory.

In another interview with the same site, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings admitted that although torrenting of files is extremely common it isn’t a bad thing due to the demand it creates with Netflix offering a service he firmly believes is an easier alternative.

“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 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.”

Netflix posted profits of some $3 million [£2 million] in the first quarter of the current year and has been particularly happy with its own moves into original programming with the likes of House of Cards and Orange is the New Black.

There are various new challengers joining the online streaming market that are aiming to take on Netflix and its main competitor LoveFilm. The most recent of these to launch in the UK is Rakuten-owned Wuaki.tv, which is available alongside both Netflix and LoveFilm on Samsung’s SmartTV service.

For the time being customers signing up using a SmartTV can access the Wuaki Plus service for £2.99 a month for life – over half the price of the cheapest services offered by Netflix and LoveFilm.