The hardest part of beating piracy is finding a way to compete with free. Netflix does it by making things dumb easy, that and purposefully picking up shows that are popular with pirates.
After the recent rollout of Netflix Netherlands, the company's Vice President of Content Acquisition in Europe, Kelly Merryman sat down for an interview with Tweakers where she said explained the trick: "With the purchase of series, we look at what does well on piracy sites." Not a bad idea.
In a separate interview, also with Tweakers, Netflix CEO Reed Hasting summed up how piracy helps feed into Netflix pretty aptly:
Certainly there’s some torrenting that goes on, and that’s true around the world, but some of that just creates the demand. 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.
Of course the strategy of licensing the most pirated shows doesn't always work. It's most useful outside the US, where international rights aren't always locked down. And sometimes shows just aren't for sale. You may recall (and should be able to guess) that HBO's Game of Thrones routinely shatters torrenting records, and it's not coming to Netflix any time soon. So in the meantime, maybe they'll just have to make their own. [TorrentFreak]