Netflix: ‘Piracy can be a business tool’

Netflix has revealed that it tracks piracy sites to help decide which TV series and films it should add to its online streaming service. It gave Prison Break as an example of one programme it had bought as a consequence of using the strategy.

Breaking-BadNetflix’s vice president of content acquisition disclosed its use of the technique to Tweakers, a Dutch news site on the occasion of its launch in the Netherlands.

“With the purchase of series, we look at what does well on piracy sites,” said Kelly Merryman.

Netflix’s chief executive, Reed Hastings, had previously told the site that he believed his VoD product might discourage people from using BitTorrent piracy sites because it was easier to use.

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.

The chief executive of US media firm Time Warner also recently signalled that piracy may have worked in the favour of its HBO show, Game of Thrones.

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