Video streaming service Netflix has revealed that it monitors piracy sites to asses the popularity and appeal of the shows it buys. The US firm gave Prison Break as an example of one programme it had bought as a consequence of using the strategy. Netflix's vice president of content acquisition disclosed its use of the [...]

Video streaming service Netflix has revealed that it monitors piracy sites to asses the popularity and appeal of the shows it buys.


The US firm gave Prison Break as an example of one programme it had bought as a consequence of using the strategy.
Netflix's vice president of content acquisition disclosed its use of the technique to Tweakers, a Dutch news site covering the firm's launch in the Netherlands.
"With the purchase of series, we look at what does well on piracy sites,"said Kelly Merryman. "Prison Break is exceptionally popular on piracy sites. But there are many programmes that we will not buy, such as The Voice. Such live programmes are better suited for live TV."
In a separate interview with Tweakers, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said the company is trying to position itself as an alternative to piracy sites that he said actually create demand for his company's pay service.
"Certainly there's some torrenting that goes on, and that's true around the world, but some of that just creates the demand," said Hastings, who believes ease-of-use will help convert illegal downloaders. "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."
The comments come a fortnight after the creator of the US series Breaking Bad said that piracy had helped his show survive, allowing it to find an audience after "very low viewership" of legal broadcasts of its first episodes.
"Piracy is certainly a double-edged sword," Vince Gilligan toldentertainment news site Digital Spy.
"It does disincentivise companies from making their products if they feel they can't earn an honest living off of them, but on the other hand there was an upside to the piracy, because it got the word out in regards to Breaking Bad."
View the Tweakers interview here