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Netflix’s piracy battle benefits subscribers

Recently, Netflix revealed that it adds movies and television shows to its catalog based on which media people most often stream or download from piracy websites, according to BBC News.

This move by Netflix obviously benefits the company and producers — they gain revenue and customers that they would otherwise lose to piracy sites — but it also benefits viewers, particularly college students. Piracy can be more effectively combatted if major streaming services work toward the same goal.

While there is debate over whether piracy helps or hurts viewership, Netflix ensures that viewers already paying for their subscription service do not resort to illegal (and often unreliable) websites with pop-up advertisements or computer virus threats, such as The Pirate Bay. On these sites, users have to sort through links for what they deem to be the most reliable third-party hosts. In contrast to these sites, Netflix provides users with a reliable hub of television shows and movies for a relatively low monthly price — $7.99.

For college students, this budget-friendly subscription is a viable and welcome alternative to piracy sites. The subscription costs less than $100 each year. However, a paid subscription often cannot compete with the free option, despite any risks associated with it.

Regardless, Netflix rewards customers by providing them with wanted content. Some users may still use piracy sites to find content that Netflix does not carry, but the service is aiming to reduce visits to these sites by anticipating and researching what their users want. Other video streaming services, like Hulu and Amazon Instant Video, could benefit their customers by doing similar research. By combining forces to ensure that popular television shows and movies are available to the largest audience possible, these services should decrease visits to piracy sites.

According to The Guardian, Kevin Spacey — star of the Netflix original series House of Cards — said during the Edinburgh Television Festival, “The audience wants control. They want freedom. If they want to binge ... then we should let them binge.”

The iTunes store has thrived off the concept of giving users easy access to content when they want it. Apple stocks its library full with movies and music that are accessible on various platforms. By researching which television shows and movies are most often pirated, streaming services like Netflix give users similar control to binge on the content they want.