While Netflix admits to competing with Amazon, Hulu, Disney, WarnerMedia, HBO, and all the other big TV streaming names, the company that’s absolutely killing them in viewership is not a tv service, but a video game. Sure, the average person might think the biggest competitor to streaming giant Netflix is HBO because their hit shows are exclusively streamed through HBO Go. Instead, Netflix claimed that Epic Games’ Fortnite was a bigger competitor in their latest investor call.
It may be mostly gamesmanship, but Netflix says it’s not really focused on rival streaming-video services from Amazon, Hulu, Disney, WarnerMedia or other big players as much as improving its own service to win share of consumers’ attention.
“We compete with (and lose to) ‘Fortnite’ more than HBO,” Netflix told investors in its quarterly letter for Q4. “There are thousands of competitors in this highly fragmented market vying to entertain consumers and low barriers to entry for those great experiences.”
Epic Games’ “Fortnite” certainly has been a knockout hit. The online-game title generated $2.4 billion in revenue for 2018, per estimates from industry analyst firm SuperData, with some 200 million players.
It’s pretty easy to figure out how Netflix might lose to Fortnite. Between the hours people spend playing the game, to the hours spent watching streams of Fortnite on Twitch or Mixer, to the compilation videos, reactions, and commentary that make up the Fortnite segment of YouTube, Epic Games has a pretty serious market share of the online entertainment space.
Which is a win for gamers everywhere that games are now counted as entertainment enough to compete with everyone’s favorite binge-watch vehicle.
Now you might think this is an obvious conclusion, but gaming isn’t often considered a competitor to more traditional forms of entertainment. Part of that has to do with the stigma of games being seen as childish, but the rest is all down to outreach. No other game has managed to mobilize the sheer fanaticism as Fortnite. Sure, there were big name franchises before Epic Games brought out their Battle Royale, but it doesn’t really matter. Most games weren’t household names the way Fortnite is now.
Which ultimately means that companies like Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu need to start looking at gaming in a different light–and that could have some interesting implications for consumers.