Popcorn Time, the app for Mac and jailbroken iOS devices that allows you to stream movie and television torrents from the cloud, has often been heralded as “Netflix for pirates,” thanks to its easy-to-use interface and huge selection of content. Turns out that’s enough for Netflix to consider Popcorn Time a direct competitor.
In a letter sent to shareholders yesterday (.pdf), Netflix said piracy was one of its “biggest competitors” and specifically pointed out Popcorn Time as a possible rival.
It’s easy to see why Netflix is worried. Anyone who can download the Popcorn Time app can easily stream movies and television shows without knowing anything about torrenting. Piracy over Bittorrent isn’t anything new, but it’s never been as easy as Popcorn Time makes it.
That’s got Netflix worried. The streaming-video company points to a Google Trends graph that compares the popularity of searches for Netflix, HBO and Popcorn Time in the Netherlands. The takeaway? Popcorn Time is just as popular when it comes to searches now as Netflix and HBO. The global view is much different, with Netflix dwarfing both Popcorn Time and HBO, but Netflix still calls Popcorn Time’s popularity “sobering.”
So what does this all mean? Basically, services like Netflix and Spotify manage to succeed by making streaming content over the Internet easier than pirating it. But what happens when pirating content is easier than using Netflix? That’s what Netflix needs to be on guard against, in 2015 and beyond.