Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has re-iterated the suggestion that piracy is the biggest competitor to Netflix. In a letter to shareholders, Hastings specifically pointed out piracy, and in particular, the Popcorn Time app, as the biggest risk to the future success of Netflix.
"Piracy continues to be one of our biggest competitors," Netflix CEO Reed Hastings writes. "This graph of Popcorn Time's sharp rise relative
to Netflix and HBO in the Netherlands, for example, is sobering."
The graph in question shows the search trend for the keywords "Netflix", "Popcorn Time" and "HBO" on Google, in the Netherlands. What it now shows is that the popularity of "Popcorn Time" as a search keyword has now caught up to "Netflix", and has become far more popular than "HBO".
It is worthwhile to note that search popularity does not always equate to the actual popularity of these apps. New and relatively unknown terms, such as "Popcorn Time", will usually rise quickly in the search trends, before tapering off to a much lower level. On the other hand, fewer people need to search for well known companies such as Netflix, when most can simply go straight to the company's official website to get more information.
It is also worth noting that Netflix labels piracy as a "competitor", indicating that Netflix intends to compete with, and try to eliminate the threat - it is something that differentiate the company from the attitude of many others in the entertainment industry.
While piracy has always remained a serious problem for legal content distributors, Popcorn Time and applications like it post a more serious threat due to these application's ease of use. Netflix's great advantage of being user friendly is much less of an advantage when stacked up against the likes of Popcorn Time, and it is this, more than the fact that Popcorn Time is free, that has Netflix worried.