“With the purchase of series, we look at what does well on piracy sites,” said Netflix's VP of Content Acquisition Kelly Merryman in a recent interview with Dutch news site Tweakers. Netflix decided to buy the rights to the TV show "Prison Break" in the Netherlands because it was being pirated so much there, Merryman said.
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings told Tweakers in another interview that he is aware that torrenting -- sharing large files like TV shows, often illegally, over the Internet -- happens around the world, but that can help create demand for shows and movies that Netflix offers. “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,” Hastings reportedly said.
In May, Netflix's Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said in an interview that when Netflix launches in a new place, "Bittorrent traffic drops as the Netflix traffic grows." This claim was disputed by BitTorrent's Matt Mason. Sarandos said he believes that "people are honest" and value a positive, easy experience, which they get from Netflix, not pirating sites.
Netflix isn't the only content provider that watches and appreciates pirates. Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes recently said that he was pleased HBO's "Game Of Thrones" was the most pirated show of 2012. "That's better than an Emmy," said Bewkes. In time, Bewkes argues, more piracy leads to more subscribers.