Netflix has let the cat out of the bag. The leading streaming service has admitted to keeping tabs on piracy sites in order to determine which shows it should spend its money on – which shows to purchase and make available legally to their customers.

Netflix

You don’t really need to think long and hard about it. The most popular TV shows (and movies) always make it first to sites where people can download media for free. You can also gauge the popularity of the show by the number of people sharing and downloading the files. It does make sense, then, that Netflix (and perhaps other streaming services) uses these sites as a measure of which shows will be popular with their clientele, and thus bring them more revenue.

In an interview with Tweakers, vice president of content acquisition for Netflix, Kelly Merryman shares their “secret”.

With the purchase of series, we look at what it does well to piracy sites. That was one of the reasons that Prison Break in the Netherlands can be seen on Netflix. Prison Break is exceptionally popular on piracy sites.

Does this mean the media giant is lauding piracy? Not exactly, although it does see some merit – which it unashamedly takes advantage of.

In other news, Netflix is not alone is seeing the “good” side of piracy. Even Vince Gilligan of Breaking Bad has been quoted as saying that piracy has helped his show to survive. (Not that it needs any help now!)

Piracy is certainly a double-edged sword. 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.

Then there’s HBO’s Game of Thrones, which is being dubbed as the most pirated show of the world.

While there seems to be a more relaxed view of piracy from certain groups, I doubt that the entertainment industry as a whole will ever be happy with the situation.

[Image via Netflix]