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Netflix checks torrent popularity to help choose what shows to buy

by Mark Tyson on 16 September 2013, 15:15

Tags: Netflix, The Pirate Bay, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment

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In a recent interview on Netherlands based site Tweakers a senior Netflix executive has admitted the company studies pirate torrent download charts carefully to help it decide what TV content to buy. Netflix has launched in the Netherlands last week offering subscriptions for €7.99 per month.

Netflix VP of content acquisition Kelly Merryman told Tweakers that “when purchasing series, we look at what does well on piracy sites”. Of course this is a task that has to be undertaken on a country by country basis as the popularity of TV shows varies considerably between different regions. The Netherlands is actually the 41st country to receive Netflix services so perhaps monitoring sites such as TPB and checking through piracy popularity charts around the world provides a full time job for a couple of people at Netflix HQ.

Merryman said that based on piracy figures for the 20th Century Fox Television series ‘Prison Break’ in the Netherlands it was a must-have series for the Dutch market. Netflix also looks at cinema viewing figures from films but the popularity of live shows, such as The Voice, doesn’t often convert to a Netflix purchase. “Such live programs are better suited for live TV,” and it is why concerts, sporting events and news programs, even if highly popular, are also not compelling purchases for Netflix, explained the content acquisition VP. Previously Netflix CEO, Reed Hastings, claimed that BitTorrent usage in Canada dropped by half after the streaming service’s launch in that country.

In another example of the double-edged sword of piracy Vince Gilligan, creator of Breaking Bad, said piracy had helped his show survive past the initial first episodes which reportedly had a “low viewership” on regular TV.

HEXUS Forums :: 9 Comments

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Saw this and its a smart move. Tbh having netflix has cut down my downloading to more or less nothing as I always have something to watch.
Definitely makes sense. I can go home and watch Breaking Bad now on netflix, rather than … not being able to before they picked it up.
Still light years behind US air dates and such a small choice of shows!
Breaking bad has bucked the trend though… its shown 1 hour after the US version has aired , pretty amazing! Love netflix and hope they keep going strong in pushing for very quick releases and pick up the series that networks drop for no reason!.
Still light years behind US air dates and such a small choice of shows!

It's worth paying an extra few notes to someone like unblock-us.com so you can get the US version. The selection is far larger!