A study finds Netflix is right — videogames are a competitor to TV watching and streaming

Netflix raised eyebrows Thursday night when the streaming service said the popular videogame “Fortnite” is more of a competitor than HBO.

But an academic study finds Netflix NFLX, -3.99% is absolutely right.

Gray Kimbrough has studied what’s called the American Time Use Survey from the Labor Department for what it says about videogame use.

Increased gaming is offset by decreasing time spent watching television, movies and streaming video, he found in a study presented at the American Economic Association annual meeting.

The increased prevalence is, perhaps not surprisingly, focused on young men.

Between 2015 and 2017 for men aged between 21 and 30, time spent on gaming rose to 4 hours from 2.3 hours, while time spent on watching TV, movies or streaming fell to 14.9 hours from 16.9 hours. Young women also are spending more time playing games, though not as much: Their time rose to 1.4 hours from 0.8 hours, while TV, movies and streaming time fell to 13.6 hours from 15.3 hours.

There are other differences between the genders. Young men living with their parents spent markedly more time playing games, a phenomenon not shared by women living with their parents.

All that said, these young men are not leaving the labor force to play games, as another academic study has suggested.

“What I do see is evidence that men who have just left the labor market are gaming more than those staying,” he said.

Kimbrough, who is an adjunct professor at the American University and an economist at the Federal Housing Finance Agency, said there’s a less-studied phenomenon apparent in the data — the increased television watching by those aged 55 and over.

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