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Reuters/Lucy Nicholson
Netflix isn’t impressed.
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It’s only January and Netflix already won the 2019 award for shadiest letter to shareholders

By Ashley Rodriguez

We are mere weeks into the new year and Netflix has already released one of 2019’s shadiest letters to shareholders.

The streaming-video giant, which is facing a glut of competition from the likes of Amazon, Disney, Hulu, and HBO, suggested those streaming rivals are the least of its worries. The company insinuated in a letter to shareholders (paywall) on Thursday that it’s more concerned about video-game phenomenons like Fortnite and platforms like YouTube than obvious rivals like HBO and Hulu.

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. Hulu is small compared to YouTube for viewing time… Our growth is based on how good our experience is, compared to all the other screen time experiences from which consumers choose.

The company said it’s winning time away from those activities. Netflix makes up about 10% of TV screen time in the US, or an average 100 million hours of viewing on TV screens per day, it said in the letter. It garners a smaller share of screen time on mobile.

“There’s a billion hours of television content being consumed today. We’re winning about 10% of it,” CEO Reed Hastings added in a call following the release of the shareholder letter. “Disney, they have great content. We’re excited for their launch. And you know, maybe they grow over a couple years to 50 million hours a day. But that’s out of the billion, and so we compete so broadly with all of these different providers that any one provider entering only makes a difference on the margin.”

Netflix also subtly slighted Disney and other media companies that have started pulling content from its platform to put on their own burgeoning services, in the letter.

We are ready to pay top-of-market prices for second run content when the studios, networks and producers are willing to sell, but we are also prepared to keep our members ecstatic with our incredible original content if others choose to retain their content for their own services.

Netflix touted its original movies and series like Bird Box and Stranger Things. And, although it recently paid $100 million (paywall) to renew its deal for WarnerMedia’s Friends, Netflix said it would focus less on TV repeats and movies from other studios, and more on originals.

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