Stop it with all the talk about Netflix losing subscribers from the oncoming deluge of streaming services. Netflix says you're focusing on the wrong thing.
It's not Disney's new streaming video service or HBO or Amazon that Netflix is worried about, the company said today in its letter to shareholders. Netflix estimates it has already earned about 10 percent of all U.S. television screen time. The company also shared viewership statistics for some of its exclusives, boasting that "Bird Box" netted 80 million viewers in its first four weeks on Netflix, while "You" will get about 40 million over the same period.
Instead, it's newer forms of entertainment — such as Fortnite and Google's YouTube — that got shout-outs in the company's letter as stronger competitors.
"Our focus is not on Disney+, Amazon or others, but on how we can improve our experience for others," Netflix said in its shareholder letter. "We compete with (and lose to) Fortnite more than HBO. When YouTube went down globally for a few minutes in October, our viewing and signups spiked for that time."
CEO Reed Hastings said on the company's earnings interview that he "likes" Disney and is excited for the Disney+ launch. Ultimately, he said, it's about winning time, not content.
"We compete so broadly with all of these providers, that any one provider entering only makes a difference on the margin," Hastings said.
Netflix came up with the 10 percent statistics because it says it serves 100 million hours a day to TV screens in the U.S., where people spend an aggregate 1 billion hours a day watching TV. Ten percent is an astounding number, considering it wasn't long ago that Netflix didn't stream to TVs at all. Netflix had to wait for smart TVs and connected devices such as Apple TV, Roku and Comcast's X1 to bring its programming to TVs across America.
By framing the conversation around YouTube and Fortnite, Netflix is pushing the envelope to include all entertainment devices, including yet-to-be-invented devices that will bring entertainment options. This extension of competition isn't new for Netflix, which has cited sleep as something it fights against.
But it's a shot across the bow to investors and analysts who have been concerned that media companies may eventually yank prized shows such as "The Office" and "Friends" off Netflix. CEO Reed Hastings is saying he's got bigger fish to fry.