It’s true that many Canadians have adopted the popular streaming television and movie service Netflix, but has it really helped curb piracy in Canada? Netflix CEO Reed Hastings certainly thinks so.
In a recent interview with Dutch website Tweakers while promoting the launch of Netflix Netherlands, Hastings was asked if he believed people would make the switch from torrenting media to Netflix, and he said they would. When pressed for examples, Macleans reports, Hastings cited Canada as an example of a market where it had happened:
“Bittorrent traffic’s down by about 50 per cent since Netflix launched three years ago,” Hastings said in reference to Canada.
While Netflix declined to provide the source for that statistic, there is some evidence, like this 2012 report, which some argue is an indication that presenting legal alternatives to piracy is enough to convince pirates to go legal.
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Another Netflix executive has even said that the company turns to torrenting websites to find out what media is being sought after by online pirates. Kelly Merryman, vice president of content acquisition for the service, told Tweakers that they found Prison Break was especially popular on piracy sites, the BBC reports, which is one of the reasons Netflix purchased it.
Of course, there are many Canadians who still don’t find Netflix sufficient enough to curb their piracy habits. A quick look at this blog of what’s available on Canadian Netflix versus the U.S. service (which, as a side note, is an excellent resource to know what’s on Netflix) shows that Netflix Canada has 3,461 movies and shows, while Netflix USA has over 10,000. As a result, some are turning to iTunes to purchase episodes legally, while others are opting for piracy, or setting up a proxy to make it appear as if they’re accessing Netflix from the United States.
Nevertheless, Hastings says that his service remains popular because it’s easier than pirating the content.
“Netflix is so much easier than torrenting,” Hastings said, according to The Huffington Post. “You don’t have to deal with files, you don’t have to download them and move them around. You just click and watch.”
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