There's no denying that Fortnite (opens in new tab) is quite big nowadays, to put it mildly. When you ask how many people play Fortnite (opens in new tab), the latest figures state that it's over 78 million people every single month. And it's those kind of figures that are attracting the attention of the biggest companies in the world, including Netflix. Now, that might sound a bit strange for a movie and TV streaming service that made $16 billion in revenue in 2018, but it's true.
In its Q4 report (opens in new tab) under the headline ‘Competition’ (H/T Polygon (opens in new tab)), Netflix describes a “very broad set of competitors” that it’s in a back-and-forth with over screen time. Surprisingly, one that gets marked as something that beats Netflix of those is a certain game you may have heard of. Just a hunch.
“We compete with (and lose to) Fortnite more than HBO,” the report states, referring to both Epic’s behemoth battle royale and the cable network that carries the likes of Game of Thrones and Big Little Lies.
HBO we can kind of understand – they share the same medium after all – but it’s Fortnite’s attempts to go up against Netflix in terms of grabbing the attention of potential viewers that’s most interesting. While they operate in different spaces, the pair are in a constant arms race to provider bigger, better, and more talked-about content than the other. It seems Fortnite’s rapid growth in 2018 to become a brand synonymous with dabs and flossing has put Netflix’s back against the wall.
So, how will Netflix combat this? Its plan of action is unequivocal: “Our growth is based on how good our experience is.” Not Fortnite, not HBO, not Amazon Video, but Netflix. It’s all on them.
However, it is fascinating to see Netflix shift slightly towards more game-oriented experiences. the choose-your-own-adventure style path towards the various Black Mirror: Bandersnatch endings (opens in new tab) could easily have been something fired up and played on a home console and Netflix is also getting involved in bringing games to the service, with Minecraft: Story Mode available to play on Netflix as of December 2018.
As of right now in the US, Netflix takes up 10% of all recorded screen time – but now the streaming service is adjusting its scope and setting its sights firmly on taking Fortnite down a peg or two. This could be a battle for the ages.