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Netflix uses pirate sites to determine programming

Netflix has revealed that it uses pirate sites to determine which TV shows it will purchase.

The revelation occurred following the recent launch of the Netflix subscription service in the Netherlands, with the company’s vice president of content acquisition Kerry Merryman talking about their curation process.

Merryman told Tweakers that Netflix looks at the popularity of TV shows on BitTorrent websites before making decisions on what to buy for the service.

“With the purchase of series, we look at what does well on piracy sites,” said Merryman (via Google Translate).

Apparently, it was the fact that Prison Break was “exceptionally popular” on such piracy sites that lead to Netflix picking it up for the Dutch branch of its service.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings also spoke to the website for his company’s Netherlands launch, and claimed that illegal video torrenting actually fuelled demand for curated subscription services such as Netflix.

“Netflix is so much easier than torrenting,” Hastings said. “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 then made reference to the fact that in Canada, BitTorrenting is down 50 percent since the introduction of Netflix three years ago.

With such piracy forming a vital part of Netflix’s programming decision process and subscription numbers continuing to rise, it’s perhaps understandable that Hastings points to the likes of HBO as its biggest threat. During the interview he made repeated reference to the American premium subscription service “blocking” Netflix from acquiring key content such as Game of Thrones.

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