Tech-savvy consumers have been boldly declaring that piracy can help and not hinder industry for years (especially when it comes to music downloads), but I was shocked the first time I heard the same claim from another group: from some very knowledgeable marketing types one day over a year ago in a boardroom. One of them simply asked, “Is the show on BitTorrent? How many people are downloading it?” The rest of the group looked genuinely interested in the answer from a demand point of view, not from an outraged one. I’ve since heard the same thing again several times, from different companies.
An even more interesting thing has started to happen: unofficial, but sanctioned television show leaks on BitTorrent. Broadcasters aren’t posting their shows directly on PirateBay yet, but they are talking informally and giving copies of shows to a friend of a friend who is unaffiliated with the company to make a torrent. Why? Well, it’s partially an experiment, but the hope is that distribution of content this way will lead to new viewers that wouldn’t have been reached through traditional marketing means. Early signs indicate that these experiments are working.