Netflix Now Has 139 Million Subscribers and Says It Competes With ‘Fortnite More Than HBO’

Streaming service estimates it commands 10% of all U.S. TV screen time

Netflix estimates 40 million members will watch at least 70% of an episode of You in its first four weeks. Netflix
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It will now be even tougher for the four big streaming services scheduled to debut in the next year—from Disney, AT&T, Apple and NBCUniversal—to catch up with Netflix.

The streaming giant now has 139 million subscribers worldwide, 58.5 million of which are U.S. subscribers, it said today in a shareholders letter. That’s up from 110 million a year ago.

Netflix estimates it commands 10 percent of all U.S. TV screen time. The company serves an average of 100 million hours a day to U.S. TV screens, which it estimates are on for a billion hours total each day.

As seemingly every media company is trying to compete with Netflix by readying their own OTT services—most recently, on Monday, NBCUniversal said it will roll out a streaming service early next year—Netflix said it isn’t thinking about the competition.

“Our focus is not on Disney+, Amazon or others, but on how we can improve our experience for our members,” said the shareholders letter. Furthermore, “We compete with (and lose to) Fornite more than HBO.”

Netflix also continued its recent practice of sharing robust, though unverifiable, viewing figures for its most recent releases.

It said that You, which began airing on Lifetime Dec. 26, is on track to be viewed by more than 40 million households in its first four weeks. (For Netflix, a “view” is when at least 70 percent of one episode is completed; also note that these are estimates, as You has not been on Netflix for four weeks yet.) After a quiet run on Lifetime last fall, You is now a full-fledged Netflix original series. Season 2 will air exclusively on the streaming service.

Netflix said its new series, Sex Education, which debuted less than a week ago, is also on pace to be watched by more than 40 million households during its first month.

And after previously saying that 45 million Netflix accounts watched the film Bird Box during its first week of release, the streaming service now estimates 80 million households will have seen Bird Box during its first four weeks of release.

It’s important to note that there are no independent numbers to verify Netflix’s data, though Nielsen’s U.S.-only ratings for Bird Box’s first week seemed to be in line with Netflix’s early estimates.

In a video interview for investors, chief content officer Ted Sarandos said the company will share sharing more of the data to show the reach of its content. “For part of your Netflix subscription, you’re in the zeitgeist. You’re watching the programming that the rest of the world is loving at the same time,” said Sarandos.

On Tuesday, Netflix said it would be raising its monthly subscription rates between $1 and $2 over the next few months.


@jasonlynch Jason Lynch is TV Editor at Adweek, overseeing trends, technology, personalities and programming across broadcast, cable and streaming video.