Fans of the hit Netflix original series, Orange is the New Black, are standing by, like Cinderella, waiting for the clock to strike midnight on the west coast tonight. When the clock strikes twelve viewers worldwide will be able to (legally) binge watch all 13 episodes of the popular prison ensemble series. Netflix has expanded to dozens of markets in the Americas, Europe and Oceania.
While the series will undoubtedly be widely pirated, now that piracy havens like Brazil have Netflix it will be interesting to see if the problem is less widespread. In fact, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings made news last week by suggesting (with caveats) that illegal piracy actually paved the way for Netflix’s success by changing audience viewing habits.
People have grown to prefer tailoring their viewing habits to their own schedules, a key factor in why Netflix’s appeal has grown. In comments to the Spanish newspaper El Mundo, Hastings explained:
“I think Spain will be one of our most successful countries. There is a high rate of Internet connectivity and a population that is accustomed to the use of electronic commerce and that has shown signs of being interested in our product. We are very optimistic.”
“Well, you can call [piracy] a problem, but the truth is that it has also created a public that is now used to viewing content on the Internet.”
It’s not to say Netflix isn’t worried about the negative impact of piracy. There’s plenty of concern that illegal viewing could negatively impact profits. From Forbes:
Piracy has a direct effect on the attractiveness of Netflix’s exclusive programming. Subscribers may not be interested in viewing these shows at Netflix’s paid platform when they can get the same shows for free. The company even addressed this issue in its last quarterly letter to its shareholders by acknowledging piracy as one of its biggest competitors.
There are also plans for Netflix to expand to big markets known as piracy hot spots including China and Russia. Will Netflix turn people away from free downloads in favor on convenient streaming options? That remains an open question. For now at least, progress is being made and more people can sit down tonight and indulge in the season 3 of Orange is the New Black. I can’t wait.