Sky Betting & Gaming's Neil Jones on the Online Safety Bill, Podcasts, and Netflix Gaming

On this week’s episode of The MadTech Podcast, Neil Jones, senior digital marketing manager at Sky Betting & Gaming, joins ExchangeWire’s Grace Dillon and Ciaran O'Kane to discuss the latest news in ad tech and martech.

Together, they discuss:


- A new draft online safety bill which aims to crack down on abuse inflicted over social media platforms and to protect underage internet users has been introduced in the UK. Under the prospective legislation, social media sites, websites, apps, and other platforms that serve as hosts to user-generated content will be responsible for removing and preventing the spread of dangerous and/or illegal material. These companies will be expected to assess the risks that their platforms pose to young and vulnerable people, and to take decisive action to tackle harassment and abuse.

Those who fail to comply with the draft policies, which will be enforced by Ofcom, can now face a fine of either £18m or 10% of their annual global turnover (whichever is higher), and the consumer body will have the ability to restrict or block access to their sites. Campaigners have criticised the fact that the new bill neither extends to fraud, nor imposes criminal liability on offending companies. However, a criminal offence has been added as a deferred power, and may be imposed on senior managers who fail to take their responsibilities seriously.

In a statement, Ofcom chief executive Dame Melanie Dawes said that the “bill takes us a step closer to a world where the benefits of being online, for children and adults, are no longer undermined by harmful content.” The proposed law will undergo scrutiny by a joint committee of MPs before being introduced to parliament in its final version. The government have confirmed that there will be a review of the bill at least 2 years after it has been officially implemented.  


- Podcasts still offer a massive opportunity for businesses, writes Alex Kantrowitz from Big Technology. Despite previous consensus that the market is oversaturated, the fact that tech heavyweights Apple, Facebook, Twitter, and (of course) Spotify have all put podcasting at the heart and centre of their strategies points to the medium’s as-yet unrealised potential.

There’s still a way to go in terms of adoption: in the US, just 107 million of the nation’s 328.2 million people listen to podcasts per year, and ad revenue for the medium sat at USD $1bn (£705m) in 2020 compared to terrestrial radio’s USD $10bn (£7.1bn). Yet podcasting is better positioned than ever to take the lead within audio: not only are new business models making the medium more accessible to a broader range of creators, but technological improvements - from better podcasting apps, to wireless speakers and earphones - have made listening far easier.

Advertising spend on podcasts is expected to increase >30% YOY to $1.33bn (£937.6m) in 2021 and to $1.74bn (£1.2bn) in 2022, increases that will help the market grow by attracting new talent. Meanwhile, paid-for subscriptions are on the rise, giving life to a “‘middle class’ of podcasters” who are too small to attract ad spend, but can sustain themselves with funding from their loyal listener bases. The signs look good for the future of paid for subscriptions, with both Apple and Spotify currently building them into their own podcast platforms.


- Netflix could soon be adding gaming to their arsenal. Reports surfaced last month that the world’s leading video streaming platform is looking for an executive to lead them into the space, and could kick-start the offering with the launch of a suite of downloadable games, per Axios.

Whilst nothing is set in stone, a source familiar with Netflix’s prospective plans revealed that the company envisages the offering as “a smaller Apple Arcade”, providing ad-free mobile games to paying subscribers. Other sources say that the offering will include a mixture of games from licensed Netflix IP and original titles commissioned from independent studios, although the firm hasn't ruled out producing games in-house and even making them compatible with smart TVs. 

With a global audience of over 200 million, Netflix may seem well positioned to stake a claim in this fast-growing market. However, the failures of fellow giants Google and Amazon to break into the space suggests that successfully transitioning into the space is easier said than done. Regardless, Netflix’s effort is currently expected to reach the market by 2022.