Jo Redfern on UK TV Subscriptions, Netflix Games, and Google’s FAST Play

On this week's episode of The MadTech Podcast, content strategist Jo Redfern, joins ExchangeWire staff writer Hannah Dillon and head of content John Still to discuss the recovery of SVOD subscriptions in the UK, Google's move into the FAST space, Netflix's advancement into gaming, and more.

UK TV subscriptions rise amid household cost cutting

How secure is the future of streaming, in the UK and elsewhere? How are brands navigating their messaging during the cost of living crisis?

Streaming subscriptions have risen in the UK, up 4.1% in March, according to Barclays. The increase, which marks digital content subscriptions’ highest year-on-year growth in five months, comes as consumers cut back on discretionary spending, including on nights out, to manage the rising cost of living.

According to figures from Barclays, spending rose just 4% last month, with over half of consumers cutting back on things like new clothes and eating at restaurants. While Mother’s Day gave retailers a boost, estimates suggest that the Coronation weekend will prove disappointing for leisure and hospitality businesses.

Google redoubles FAST efforts

How might this update affect Google’s position within the FAST space, and what impact could this have on competing providers? What impact could Google’s move have on the recovery of SVOD?

Google has announced an updated version of Google TV, which will see the CTV platform aggregate content from over 800 free, ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) channels. The change will allow viewers to browse programs from both linear channels which Google has distribution rights for and from virtual multichannel video programming distributors (vMVPDs) that have partnered with the tech giant. 

The upgrade will allow viewers to explore content from FAST providers that Google have integrated with, such as Pluto TV, Plex, and Tubi, alongside Google’s own selection of channels, all within the same platform. The update could lay the groundwork for the search giant to launch its own branded channels, although it’s unclear whether Google has any plans to do so.

Netflix aim to release 40 new games by year’s end

Could Netflix succeed in gaming, or could it suffer the same fate as Google’s Stadia? With Netflix reporting mixed results for Q1 2023, is this the right time for Netflix to move further into gaming?

Netflix has revealed its ambition to release a further forty video games by the end of 2023. The streaming giant, which boasts over 200 million global subscribers, first moved into gaming in 2021. The company has already launched 55 games from independent studios and household name Ubisoft. Netflix’s various in-house studios are reportedly working on 16 games, and a further 70 are in development among the streamer’s partners.

Netflix VP of external games, Leanne Loombe, told Axios that the company plans to partner with more large-scale publishers and will invest in more exclusive games, which have proved popular. Despite Netflix’s enthusiasm, the gaming industry has proved a tough nut to crack for other tech and entertainment firms before it, with Google recently shuttering its Stadia gaming platform due to a lack of player interest.