Netflix Reveals the Surprising Way It Chooses Its Content

How does Netflix choose what content it acquires for its streaming service? Very reasonably, it turns out – the company looks at what the people are already trying to watch and makes it easier and more convenient for them to watch it. Imagine that!

In a recent interview with Tweakers, Kelly Merryman, Netflix’s VP of Content Acquisition in Europe, explained how the company goes about deciding what shows and movies will do well on its on-demand service.

“With the purchase of series, we look at what does well on piracy sites,” she explained.

Obviously this doesn’t work all the time – Netflix can’t offer a show unless it can get the rights from the show’s distributor, and sometimes those distributors aren’t too forthcoming with the rights. As Eric Limer at Gizmodo points out, the much-pirated Game of Thrones isn’t offered on Netflix in any country due to HBO’s unwillingness to sell the rights.

The-Register_bittorrent-logo_FullyC_001On the other hand, the company chose to offer Prison Break on its Netherlands version of the service because the show is popular on P2P sharing services in the country.

It seems a smart strategy for sure, but it does leave one big question: why would anyone want to pay a monthly fee to Netflix to watch shows they’re torrenting anyway?

CEO Reed Hastings answered this question in another interview with Tweakers, explaining, “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.”

For many customers, that’s probably true. Netflix provides a fairly straightforward viewing experience (sure wish they’d improve the way titles are organized on the non-browser versions, though) and the price is pretty hard to argue with, especially for those of us who use it in lieu of cable TV. Perhaps Netflix can capture the casual torrenter — but are folks who are heavily into torrenting really spring for Netflix (even if it is only eight bucks a month) when they’re already getting what they want for free?

What do you think? Is Netflix’s looking to pirates for content suggestions a smart strategy? Or do you think torrenters gonna torrent, whether Netflix has their favorite shows or not?

(via Gizmodo)