Reckitt’s Jai Bulsara on CNN+, In-Game Advertising, and Netflix’s Ad U-Turn

On this week’s episode of TheMadTech Podcast, Jai Bulsara, Head of Digital Media Training at Reckitt, joins ExchangeWire’s Anne-Marie Sheedy and Rachel Smith to discuss the short-lived CNN+, Microsoft's rumoured "private marketplace", and Netflix's AVOD announcement.

CNN+ to shut down after just one month

Have linear broadcasters successfully capitalised on SVOD? Has the streaming market reached saturation?

CNN will shutter their news streaming service at the end of April – a mere month after its launch. CNN+, which was established while CNN was still part of AT&T, had reportedly seen investment of up to USD $300m (~£236.5m), and now leaves around 500 employees in limbo.

Shortly after CNN+’s launch date, AT&T became part of Warner Bros Discovery after merging with the group’s Discovery subsidiary. Incoming CNN CEO Chris Licht described the decision as “incredibly difficult [but] the right one for the long-term success of CNN.” Commentators were doubtful that a paid news channel would acquire subscribers, and the ongoing exodus of consumers from premium SVOD services (most notably, Netflix) has raised questions about the future of streaming platforms more broadly.


Microsoft rumoured to be developing ad insertion for free-to-play games

Will advertising in hardcore games become the new normal?

A program which will enable marketers to insert ads into free-to-play Xbox games is currently in the works at Microsoft. According to reports, the tech giant is developing a “private marketplace” that will restrict the ad opportunities available to brands and advertisements that won’t interrupt the gameplay. Whilst Microsoft is said to still be deciding who to partner with on building the inventory catalogue and organising ad placement, the marketplace could launch by Q3, according to sources. 

Microsoft has neither confirmed nor denied the rumours. Although the move could alienate members of a community that has historically been less receptive to advertising in their space, it could also provide a vital revenue to developers, meaning that they wouldn’t have to rely as much on in-app purchases or their players buying season-passes.


Netflix announce plans for an ad-supported tier amidst tumbling subscriber numbers

Was Netflix wrong to resist ads for so long?

Netflix has done a u-turn on its long-held rejection of advertising. Executives of the streaming giant revealed last week that they now plan to introduce an ad-supported subscription tier to the platform after it saw a staggering 200,000 subscribers leave the platform in the first three months of 2022, sending its stock market value plummeting by USD $50bn (~£39.4bn).

In response to the cost of living crisis, many consumers have cancelled their streaming service subscriptions. For many, pulling the plug on Netflix doesn’t appear to have been a particularly painful sacrifice, with viewers bemoaning the platform’s lacklustre output and higher price tag. On top of making the ad offering available “in the next year or two” (Hastings), the company is trying to curb the impact of its subscriber loss by cracking down on password sharing and pledging to reduce spend on content.