North Carolina

Who scares Netflix more: HBO, or the Cary company that makes ‘Fortnite’?

When it comes to the non-stop competition for customers’ attention in today’s internet economy, streaming giant Netflix has identified Epic Games as one of its biggest competitors.

Epic is a bigger threat than even HBO, the cable-and-streaming platform that has created shows such as “Game of Thrones” and “The Sopranos,” according to a letter Netflix sent its shareholders on Thursday.

“We compete with (and lose to) ‘Fortnite’ more than HBO,” Netflix said in the letter. “There are thousands of competitors in this highly-fragmented market vying to entertain consumers and low barriers to entry for those with great experiences. Our growth is based on how good our experience is, compared to all the other screen time experiences from which consumers choose.”

The admission from Netflix is even more proof of what a juggernaut Cary-based Epic has become since it released the “Fortnite” video game in 2017.

For reference, Netflix said it makes up around 10 percent of all television screen time in the U.S. That translates to an average of 100 million hours daily. Netflix said it made more than $4 billion in revenue from its streaming platform in the last quarter of 2018.

Founded in 1991, Epic Games made a name for itself with games such as “Gears of War” and “Shadow Complex.” But it leaped into another stratosphere after “Fortnite,” a battle-royale-style game that has become one of the most popular titles on the market.

Epic has said “Fortnite” attracted more than 125 million players as of last June.

And investors have noticed — putting more than a billion dollars into the private company. Because Epic is a private company it does not have to disclose its financial performance. But because of some disclosures the company has made we know that Epic is valued at around $15 billion, becoming the most valuable venture-backed company in all of North Carolina last year, according to CB Insights. It took over Charlotte-based finance technology company AvidXchange for that title.

The company also said last year that it now has around 1,000 employees worldwide.

Related stories from Charlotte Observer

Zachery Eanes is the Innovate Raleigh reporter for The News & Observer and The Herald-Sun. He covers technology, startups and main street businesses, biotechnology, and education issues related to those areas.