In today’s streaming-obsessed world, many often forget how difficult it was to watch something consistently in the past. Thanks to the likes of Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and others, viewers no longer need to deal with video rentals, recording onto VHS, or any of that nonsense. Instead, we get the amazing opportunity of binging virtually any series at any time, just by subscribing to a service. However, the most popular streaming platform, Netflix, now faces competition from an unexpected source – video games! Specifically, Fortnite.
Extreme Competition for Netflix
2019 might end up with the nickname The Year of Streaming. This year, Disney, Warner Bros., and NBC, all announced streaming services to battle the likes of Hulu and Amazon. Experts predict Disney’s option, Disney+, will enjoy some of the most significant opening numbers ever for a streaming service when it debuts later this year. All thanks to Disney’s incredible catalog, which includes Star Wars and the Marvel films, to name a few.
Yet, Netflix doesn’t seem as scared of Disney+ as you might imagine. Instead, video games seem to worry the streaming giant more. In particular, a game called Fortnite, which has risen in popularity recently. Everyone’s playing, from children to fully-grown adults. Plus, it’s become a pop culture icon. Even non-players are familiar with the “Fortnite Dances” thanks to viral videos and memes. Fortnite’s creators, Epic Games, estimate over 200,000 users play the game. Meanwhile, Netflix’s latest user count put them at 139,000! “We compete with Fortnite more than HBO,” Netflix stated in its annual earning report at the end of 2018. For streaming services, its all about screen time. And it seems as though many prefer to spend their minutes playing video games than watching a show.
Fortnite, YouTube, and More, Oh My!
In their annual report, Netflix pointed a big, red finger at Fortnite. However, in reality, the company faces a multi-front war. YouTube, the largest free video-hosting site in the world, takes a considerable chunk of streaming services’ users as well, with its diverse base of content producers. “When YouTube went down globally for a few minutes in October, our viewing and signups spiked for that time,” one Netflix representative said.
Plus, with a user base of just over 1.8 billion (that’s almost a fourth of the world!), YouTube easily presents the most significant challenger to streaming services. And Netflix has no problem saying so: “Hulu is small compared to YouTube for viewing time, and they are successful in the US, but non-existent in Canada, which creates a comparison point: our penetration in the two countries is pretty similar,” they said.
So, what’s Netflix’s plan? Well, they certainly don’t plan on just tackling the problem by adding new movies and series. “Our focus is not on Disney Plus, Amazon or others, but on how we can improve our experience for our members,” a representative said. Admittedly, the company did not expressly state how they plan to draw users away from video games. However, their goal seems pretty clear: more interactive media. Most recently, Netflix released Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, an playable, choose-your-own-adventure movie. Afterward, they raised prices, probably to pay for more interactive media creation. While some users did not love the price increased, chief product officer Greg Peters promises the company will invest the money wisely. Users will have to wait and see if they agree.
As the streaming wars continue to intensify, keep an eye on FinanceChatter for any updates!