Netflix says that ‘Fortnite’ is a bigger threat to its business than HBO

Jacob Siegal

In what is both a fascinating revelation and a vicious shot at one of its main rivals, Netflix said in a shareholder letter on Thursday that, in terms of screen time, Fortnite is a more pressing concern for the company’s business than HBO. While it might not be a one-to-one comparison, we do know that tens of millions of people (of all ages) are spending hours a day playing Fortnite on their phones, tablets, consoles, and computers.

More important than any other metric to Netflix is the amount of time consumers spend streaming its content, which makes a massively popular game like Fortnite just as threatening, if not more so, than any direct competitor, including HBO, Hulu, Showtime, or upcoming services from the likes of Disney and Apple.

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“In the US, we earn about 10% of television screen time and less than that of mobile screen time,” Netflix claimed in its quarterly earnings report on Thursday. “In other countries, we earn a lower percentage of screen time due to lower penetration of our service. We earn consumer screen time, both mobile and television, away from a very broad set of competitors. We compete with (and lose to) Fortnite more than HBO.

2018 was Fortnite’s first full year on the market, and it managed to surpass 200 million total players over the course of the year. For comparison’s sake, Netflix just hit 139 million paying subscribers. The average Fortnite player spends 6-10 hours a week on the game. You can see why Fortnite has Netflix’s attention.

“There are thousands of competitors in this highly-fragmented market vying to entertain consumers and low barriers to entry for those with great experiences,” Netflix adds. And unlike HBO (or really any streaming service), Fortnite is free to play, so the barrier to entry is simply owning a device that plays the game.

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