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Netflix gets it: piracy is competition

While nothing is intrinsically wrong with movie studios and record labels trying to protect the content they spend a lot of money creating, they never consider piracy as direct competition for their service, seeing it instead as outright thievery. This is a very different view from the one held by media streaming firm Netflix, which sees the likes of Popcorn Time, a torrent streaming service that certainly takes a lot of cues from Netflix’s own layout and styling, as direct competitors with its services.

When Popcorn Time was launched last year, it caused quite a stir, since it took the still relatively convoluted method of pirating films and TV shows, into something that was as easy as browsing Netflix or other streaming services. This was addressed in a leter to shareholders dug up by TorrentFreak, which reads:

“Piracy continues to be one of our biggest competitors,” Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said. “This graph of Popcorn Time’s sharp rise relative to Netflix and HBO in the Netherlands, for example, is sobering,” he added.

The graph in question, is one from Google Trends, which shows that interest in Popcorn time had exploded in the past year and even mirrored the growth of Netflix itself at certain points, suggesting that their audiences are very similar.

popcorntime

What’s important about this, is that it means Netflix is willing to consider Popcorn Time as a service that’s on the same level as its own. While clearly the piratical platform was inspired in many ways by Netflix, there is, with this attitude, the potential for that to be reversed and for Netflix to learn from Popcorn Time.

Interestingly, this represents a big change from how Netflix used to view piracy. Last year it described torrenting and other pirating services as a potential advertising tool for legitimate streaming services, since they weren’t comparable and may get people used to the idea of streaming content.

Now though Popcorn time offers something very comparable in terms of usability and a much more expanded library than Netflix can. No wonder people are worried.

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KitGuru Says: It’s good to see an organisation that’s starting to understand the real threat from piracy. Not that it’s stealing content, but that it directly competes with the legitimate content platforms, in far more ways than just pricing. 

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