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Netflix says it’s more worried about Fortnite than streaming competitors like HBO

By Benjamin Bullard
Stranger Things Season 2

As the streaming wars tighten and a small universe of small-screen platforms begins to compete for a slice of your precious (and valuable) attention span, the one at the very top of the heap says it isn’t all that worried about being toppled by new streaming insurgnets like HBO, WarnerMedia, and Disney+.

Instead, Netflix says it’s more worried that it can’t get you to stop playing Fortnite long enough to binge on BoJack Horesman, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, or Travelers.

As part of its late-2018 earnings report, Netflix revealed a small handful of stats that demonstrate the undeniable star power of its top-tier movies and shows (Bird Box, it disclosed, has been viewed by more than 80 million subscribers), and said in its shareholder letter that there’s plenty of viewership to keep it competitive as new streaming platforms enter the mix. 

But, it added, it’s the entertainment appeal of other forms of media — like video gaming — that poses the real competition. “We compete with (and lose to) Fortnite more than HBO,” Netflix said in its shareholder letter, via The Hollywood Reporter

In other words, people who subscribe to one streaming service and reliably binge its content are likely to have an appetite for plenty more, and Netflix doesn’t appear concerned with competing against platforms that are simply giving predisposed binge watchers more reasons not to get off the couch. Alluring non-viewers away from other compelling forms of entertainment, rather, is the real challenge. 

As the landscape changes for Netflix and more new streaming challengers pull their Netflix content in order to feature them on their own platforms, the streaming giant says it’s committed to creating original movies and series to replace what soon may go elsewhere. 

“We are ready to pay top-of-market prices for second run content when the studios, networks and producers are willing to sell, but we are also prepared to keep our members ecstatic with our incredible original content if others choose to retain their content for their own services,” it declared in its shareholder letter.

But until it figures out a way to persuade Fortnite players to drop their phones and game controllers long enough to take notice, it may stay locked in the same old battle royale against the compelling allure of gaming.