For Netflix, ‘Fortnite’ on YouTube is a bigger threat than HBO

Netflix launch in UK on iPad in 2012
Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

Netflix has seen its competition grow in recent years, now not only facing competitive streaming services like HBO Now and Hulu, but also CBS All Access and the upcoming Disney+. None of those, however, are as important to Netflix as YouTube — and it’s all thanks to Fortnite.

In a letter to shareholders, Netflix said that is competing with Fortnite YouTube videos more than it is with HBO’s services, as evident by periods when YouTube briefly went offline. During these times, Netflix viewership “spiked,” presumably as a second option for those who couldn’t watch their favorite Fortnite video creators.

“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 added. “Our growth is based on how good our experience is, compared to all the other screen time experiences from which consumers choose.”

It’s not just YouTube where Fortnite is dominant, however. The game also has a massive following on the livestreaming platform Twitch, where more than 37 million people follow the game’s content. It is typically the biggest or second-biggest game on the site in terms of viewership, only occasionally losing this status when another game is running a competitive event.

Fortnite will likely be competing with Netflix for the foreseeable future, as it continues to see huge player counts. In November, it topped 200 million total players, and continuous updates add new modes, weapons, gadgets, and skins to the game for players who come back each week. Its recently launched Creative mode also gives players the ability to make their own levels for custom matches, all without having to spend a dime, and it’s available on everything from Xbox One to Android phones.

None of this is to say that Netflix’s viewership hasn’t still been stellar, however. Bird Box became a viral hit almost immediately after it was made available, and more than 80 million households watched it in its first four weeks, and paid membership has risen from the same time last year. However, the company did also recently announce its largest price increase ever as streaming platforms continue to fragment into more and more services.

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