As ‘Popcorn Time’ soars, Netflix trembles

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In a recent letter to shareholders, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings explained that his company’s biggest threat was an oddly named pirate service called Popcorn Time.

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Although Netflix is the current champion of streaming service providers, consumer interest in Popcorn Time, which until now had no mainstream recognition, has soared over the past six-months, prompting Hastings to declare the pirate service a real competitor.

Who is Popcorn Time?

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Popcorn Time was developed by a group of Argentine programmers in 2014 as open-source software adapted to Apple, Google, Linux and Microsoft. The press quickly dubbed Popcorn Time the “Netflix for Pirates,” after which Hollywood and its lawyers zeroed in on the service. Popcorn Time’s developers apparently jumped ship amid legal threats, but supporters revived the program immediately.

Fast-forward a year and Popcorn Time is alive and well – and beyond anyone’s control. Popcorn Time uses multiple providers from multiple countries to simultaneously distribute and update its programming, a process which poses a big problem to competing studios and cable providers because they don’t have a centralized source to target.

So, why all the fuss?

For now, Popcorn Time exists as a free app (in multiple iterations) for Android, iOS, and Windows devices. Free is a big lure, insuring millions of users. Consider, for example, that Netflix and Hulu charge just under $10 per month, while Amazon charges $100 per year to provide streaming to customers who subscribe to Amazon’s Prime service.

Then there’s the accessibility. Popcorn Time uses a clean, easy-to-navigate layout every bit as polished as what you’d find in one of the established streaming outlets. Remember, it was iTunes’ simplicity that sold the MP3 as the replacement to CDs. Another key factor Popcorn Time has going for it is ease of use. And so far, it seems to be working.

Perhaps the program’s most valuable asset is its content; or rather, the content it “borrows from media companies. These programs include the latest televised and film releases, such as the horror film Annabelle and all seasons of Game of Thrones. This range of available titles sets it apart from the mixed-bag of Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu streaming content (read: a small number of new A-Grade releases amid a sea of B-grade and archaic content).

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With these appealing attributes, Popcorn Time has more going for it than any other free pirate video service.

But wait, don’t rush to get Popcorn Time just yet. Viewers are unlawfully accessing copyrighted content, with all the risks it entails. Yours truly received a warning from Verizon about watching the season-opener for American Horror Story (thanks, Verizon).

For now, it’s wait and see.

About Author

Andrew Montiveo is a contributing writer who covers entertainment and technology. An LA native, UC alumn (for whatever that’s worth), pseudo-intellectual, and professional lounge lizard, he is also the producer of Electric Federal, an automotive channel on YouTube.

1 Comment

  1. jamesmason999@hotmail.com'

    It would have been of interest to viewers who might wish to download this site to know that many films freeze and stop all together.
    Very frustrating when halfway through and involved in the plot.