Netflix Uses Piracy Sites When Choosing its Shows

Dennis Faas's picture

Ever wonder how Netflix determines which movies and television shows to pick up? The video streaming company says it actually looks to piracy sites to help determine the content it makes available to its millions of users.

According to Kerry Merryman, Netflix's European vice president of content acquisition, the firm often looks to piracy sites when making decisions about future content.

"With the purchase of series, we look at what does well on piracy sites," Merryman told Dutch website Tweakers.

Ironically, "Prison Break" Popular with Pirates

When asked for an example of a show that Netflix picked up because of its popularity on piracy websites, Merryman pointed to Fox series "Prison Break", which the Netflix executive said "is exceptionally popular on piracy sites." (Source:

(Prison Break is a prison drama set in the United States. The show, which stars Amaury Nolasco and Wentworth Miller, originally aired from 2005 until 2009.)

Backing up that position is Netflix chief executive officer Reed Hastings, who says he believes a comprehensive Netflix catalogue can help prevent the illegal downloading of copyright-protected material by giving consumers alternatives to piracy sites.

At the same time, Hastings says he believes piracy sites can actually increase demand for Netflix content.

Hastings: Netflix a Safer, Easier Way to Get Movies, TV Shows

Why? Because downloaders get a taste for content they can find on Netflix, where people can acquire videos without worrying about being charged with a crime or having their systems infected with malware.

Using Netflix is also a whole lot easier, Hastings says.

"Certainly there's some torrenting that goes on, and that's true around the world, but some of that just creates the demand," Hastings said.

"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."

Back in May 2013 Hastings claimed that the popularity of BitTorrent, a file-sharing protocol, has declined substantially in some markets since Netflix became available in recent years.

In fact, Hastings says BitTorrent activity in Canada has dropped by half since Netflix was first launched in that country roughly three years ago. (Source:

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