Netflix looks to piracy to see what TV shows it should license

first_imgIf you pay attention to Twitter the night a popular television show airs, you’ll notice two time periods when the tweets are concentrated: during the show, and about an hour-and-a-half after the show. The first time period makes sense — everyone is reacting to the show’s events the first time the events premiere. The second time, though, is consistent and might seem strangely timed. However, the timing couldn’t make more sense: it’s when everyone who downloaded the episode off the internet is watching it for the first time. Netflix, being a savvy media company, acknowledges the watching habits of pirates, and is now actually looking toward piracy numbers to decide what shows to put on the streaming service.Though piracy isn’t quite causing the cable TV infrastructure to crumble like cable TV would have you believe, the number of people pirating a program can be used as a sample audience size. If 50,000 people pirate Breaking Bad, that’s just a blip compared to the number of people that actually watch it on television. However, if only 15,000 people pirate Mad Men, and the two shows have the same ratings (they don’t), then Breaking Bad would appear to have a larger audience. So, if Netflix had to choose between the two shows, the one with the larger audience is likely the safer bet. Vice president of content acquisition, Kelly Merryman, said that these numbers do matter to Netflix, and the company indeed takes piracy rate into consideration when purchasing the rights to stream a show.Netflix adheres to the theory that pirates don’t mind paying a little when content is delivered in a convenient, fairly priced package. So, it’s simply a savvy strategy to see what your potential customers are watching, then offer it to them in that convenient package. Though torrenting is as easy as can be nowadays — and episodes release just minutes after they finish airing on television — streaming through Netflix is certainly easier.Perhaps annoyingly, now that Netflix has admitted it tracks piracy numbers to help make business decisions, pirates can claim that their piracy is helping a company make money.last_img

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