Netflix: Fortnite is a bigger competitor than HBO

Netflix executives identified an unlikely competitor in its fight to lure new viewers to its streaming platform when it reported fourth-quarter earnings on Thursday.

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The streaming giant said it earns an estimated 10 percent of all television screen time among U.S. consumers, or about 100 million hours per day out of a possible 1 billion hours. Based on that metric, Fortnite, the immensely popular video game created by Epic Games, is a tougher challenge than traditional media competitors, Netflix executives said in a shareholder letter.

“We earn consumer screen time, both mobile and television, away from a very broad set of competitors,” the letter said. “We compete with (and lose to) Fortnite more than HBO.”

Netflix said it had a base of roughly 139 million paid members globally through the end of 2018. By comparison, Epic Games said Fortnite had roughly 200 million registered users as of last November.

Netflix shares fell Friday approximately 3 percent as Wall Street reacted to a mixed earnings report. The company topped expectations for net subscriber additions and earnings per share, but its stock fell after hours on concerns tied to a slightly shorter in fourth-quarter revenue and cash burn.

A first-quarter revenue forecast of $4.49 billion also fell short of Wall Street’s expectations.


Netflix has emphasized original content in its bid to lure subscribers and differentiate from its competitors. While free cash flow was negative $1.3 billion in the fourth-quarter, there are signs the strategy is paying off. More than 80 million U.S. households have watched the Netflix original “Bird Box” in the four weeks after its release, the company said.