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Netflix puts Fortnite in crosshairs as streaming wars heat up

Netflix is becoming more interactive to keep its viewers from turning to video games.

San Francisco

NETFLIX, moving to fend off the challengers in the war for streaming media dominance, is taking aim at competitors from the video game world, notably Fortnite. The dominant online television service has begun efforts to become more interactive as part of an effort to keep its viewers from turning to services like Epic Games' Fortnite and Microsoft Xbox video games.

Netflix chief executive Reed Hastings spoke of competition from the video game sector this month as he discussed the quarterly results from the company with 140 million worldwide subscribers.

"I think about it really as us winning entertainment time away from other activities . . . Xbox, Fortnite, or HBO or a long list," he said. "We compete so broadly with all these different providers."

A billion hours of television content is watched daily in the US, and Netflix accounts for about a 10th of it, according to Mr Hastings.

He was asked about plans by Disney to launch a streaming television service this year, pulling coveted content such as shows starring blockbuster Marvel action heroes in the process.

But he appeared to focus on how consumers spend their screen time, including the growing market for participatory games and eSports including Fortnite.

"The idea is that time is a lot more finite than money seems to be, so getting people engaged and stuck is how you can generate dollars," NDP Group video games industry analyst Mat Piscatella told AFP.

Microsoft has focused intensely on building ranks of users and getting them to spend more time on Xbox consoles. The technology titan is working on streaming games from the Internet cloud.

Amazon-owned Twitch boasts that it streams game play to online audiences that surpass those of Netflix.

"Interest only seems to be growing," Mr Piscatella said of game play on a gamut of Internet-linked devices. "I think people like to be participatory instead of sitting back; although sitting back definitely has its time and place."

Netflix has been interested in making videos more interactive for some time, and recently released a Bandersnatch episode of techno-dystopia series Black Mirror that lets viewers make choices that influence the story. "We are starting to see Netflix figure out interactive elements," Mr Piscatella said. "It will be fun to watch." AFP