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Why succeeding in gaming is critical for Netflix’s long-term plans

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Why succeeding in gaming is critical for Netflix’s long-term plans

Netflix’s recent advertising partnership with Microsoft has cast a long shadow over this earnings period, with observers wondering whether the gambit can counterbalance the streaming giant’s declining subscriptions and increasing competition.

A look into the company’s gaming ambitions provides some insight into its plans to remain viable in the long term — and how an ads business might be scaled using both gaming and Netflix’s original intellectual properties.

It was only a matter of time until Netflix’s subscriptions began to drop off, and the company’s boardroom has had its eyes on other revenue streams since at least January 2019, when CEO Reed Hastings infamously told shareholders that his company viewed Fortnite as more of a rival than streamers such as HBO or Amazon. The company made its first executive gaming hire in July 2021, recruiting former Facebook Reality Lab vp of content Mike Verdu, and doubled down over the ensuing eight months by poaching 14 gaming executives from companies such as Riot Games, Activision Blizzard and PlayStation.

Netflix’s gaming push is an acknowledgement of the so-called attention economy. Audiences are no longer split between different types of entertainment; instead, modern consumers are constantly searching for new content across platforms and formats. “Any form of entertainment that keeps eyeballs on a screen is competing with others in the same medium,” said Gil Hirsch, CEO of the livestreaming tools and services provider StreamElements, “so streaming services and games are often vying for the same audiences if they are targeting the elusive Gen-Z and millennial demographics.”

Netflix already boasts ample potential advertising inventory in its homegrown intellectual properties; according to some observers, the popular Netflix series “Stranger Things” could generate millions of dollars through product placement. But building up a library of original games could help increase the variety and scale of Netflix’s available ad inventory, particularly as in-game advertising becomes a more fully developed channel.

The streamer has already shown that there is demand for games based on its original properties, developing a free mobile game for “Stranger Things” as early as 2017. It’s also started to experiment with the gamification of other popular IPs such as “Black Mirror” through the 2018 choose-your-own-adventure episode “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch.” There’s room for outside properties, too: the interactive adventure “Minecraft: Story Mode” has been available on the platform since 2018.

Netflix may have to choose between implementing ads into its games and charging users a higher subscription to access them. Gamers are far more willing to accept ads in free-to-play games over premium games, willingly exchanging their eyeballs (and ad impressions) for free gameplay. If Netflix makes its gaming-inclusive subscriptions more expensive than standard subs, it might have a harder time placing ads into its games.

“If, hypothetically, Netflix entered this space and offered a bunch of free games that are not at an additional cost to your subscription, that would be one possible way to implement ads into it,” said Tom Morris, a gaming insights analyst at the consumer research firm GWI. “What we’re talking about here is a trade off. People are probably going to pay more — we can’t necessarily count on that — but paying for a streaming service that offers both viewing content and gaming does open up the idea that you don’t necessarily want to have ads when you are paying for it, so in-game advertising is quite tricky like that.” 

Increased ad inventory isn’t the only reason why gaming could play a critical role in Netflix’s future. The streamer has been open about its plans to crack down on shared accounts, recently implementing extra fees for users logged in across multiple households.

For television and movie consumers, password sharing is a no-brainer — there’s practically no downside. But for gamers, an account is more than a way to access streamed content; it represents a unique character that embodies an individual and their virtual identity. Once games are in the mix, password sharing will naturally become a less attractive prospect to Netflix users that have invested time into their characters or avatars.

As gaming and traditional streaming converge, Netflix is arguably falling behind some of its competitors. Amazon has already bridged the gap between game development and streaming, offering both original series and games such as Lost Ark on via Amazon Prime; Google, YouTube and TikTok all have longstanding gaming departments dedicated to livestreaming or game development. Netflix will have to move quickly to make up for lost time.

“The tech companies are watching key demographics spend more time in gaming, either just to hang out or to pursue entertainment, and they’re like, ‘we’ve got to do more here — we need exposure to that trend,’” said Josh Chapman, a managing partner at the gaming-focused venture firm Konvoy.

“I do think that it will certainly help their top line revenue over the coming years, and that will be really well-timed as certain other products they have are sunsetting or becoming irrelevant.”

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Nothing announces official launch date for new Ear (stick) AirPods alternatives

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Nothing announces official launch date for new Ear (stick) AirPods alternatives
Nothing Ear (stick) held by a model on white background



(Image credit: Nothing )

True to form, Nothing has just announced the full reveal date for its upcoming audio product, Ear (stick). 

So, an announcement about an announcement. You’ve got to hand it to Carl Pei’s marketing department, they never miss a trick.

What we’re saying is that although we still have ‘nothing’ conclusive about the features, pricing or release date for the Ear (stick) except an image of another model holding them (and we’ve seen plenty of those traipsing down the catwalk recently), we do have a date – the day when we’ll be granted official access to this information. 

That day is October 26. Nothing assures us that on this day we’ll be able to find out everything, including pricing and product specifications, during the online Ear (stick) Reveal, at 3PM BST (which is 10AM ET, or 1AM on Wednesday if you’re in Sydney, Australia) on nothing.tech (opens in new tab)

Any further information? A little. Nothing calls the Ear (stick), which is now the product’s official name, “the next generation of Nothing sound technology”, and its “most advanced audio product yet”. 

But that’s not all! Apparently, Ear (stick) are “half in-ear true wireless earbuds that balance supreme comfort with exceptional sound, made not to be felt when in use. They’re feather-light with an ergonomic design that’s moulded to your ears. Delivered in a unique charging case, inspired by classic cosmetic silhouettes, and compactly formed to simply glide into pockets.” 

Opinion: I need more than a lipstick-style case

Nothing Ear (stick) – official leaked renders pic.twitter.com/FrhKmRttmiOctober 1, 2022

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It’s no secret that I want Nothing’s earbuds to succeed in world dominated by AirPods; who doesn’t love a plucky, eccentric underdog? 

But in order to become some of the best true wireless earbuds on the market, there is room for improvement over the Nothing Ear 1, the company’s inaugural earbuds. 

Aside from this official ‘news’ from Nothing, leaked images and videos of the Ear (stick) have been springing up all over the internet (thank you, developer Kuba Wojciechowski) and they depict earbuds that look largely unchanged, which is a shame. 

For me, the focus needs to shift from gimmicks such as a cylindrical case with a red section at the end which twists up like a lipstick. Don’t get me wrong, I love a bit of theater, but only if the sound coming from the earbuds themselves is top dog. 

As the natural companions for the Nothing Phone 1, it makes sense for the Ear (stick) to take a place similar to that of Apple’s AirPods 3, where the flagship Ear (1) sit alongside the AirPods Pro 2 as a flagship offering. 

See, that lipstick case shape likely will not support wireless charging. That and the rumored lack of ANC means the Ear (stick) is probably arriving as the more affordable option in Nothing’s ouevre. 

For now, we sit tight until October 26. 

Becky is a senior staff writer at TechRadar (which she has been assured refers to expertise rather than age) focusing on all things audio. Before joining the team, she spent three years at What Hi-Fi? testing and reviewing everything from wallet-friendly wireless earbuds to huge high-end sound systems. Prior to gaining her MA in Journalism in 2018, Becky freelanced as an arts critic alongside a 22-year career as a professional dancer and aerialist – any love of dance starts with a love of music. Becky has previously contributed to Stuff, FourFourTwo and The Stage. When not writing, she can still be found throwing shapes in a dance studio, these days with varying degrees of success.  

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YouTube could make 4K videos exclusive to Premium subscribers

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YouTube could make 4K videos exclusive to Premium subscribers
Woman watching YouTube on mobile phone screen



(Image credit: Shutterstock / Kicking Studio)

You might soon have to buy YouTube Premium to watch 4K YouTube videos, a new user test suggests.

According to a Reddit thread (opens in new tab) highlighted on Twitter by leaker Alvin (opens in new tab), several non-Premium YouTube users have reported seeing 4K resolution (and higher) video options limited to YouTube Premium subscribers on their iOS devices. For these individuals, videos are currently only available to stream in up to 1440p (QHD) resolution.

The apparent experiment only seems to be affecting a handful of YouTube users for now, but it suggests owner Google is toying with the idea of implementing a site-wide paywall for access to high-quality video in the future.

So, after testing up to 12 ads on YouTube for non-Premium users, now some users reported that they also have to get a Premium account just to watch videos in 4K. pic.twitter.com/jJodoAxeDpOctober 1, 2022

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It’s no secret that Google has been searching for new ways to monetize its YouTube platform in recent months. In September, the company introduced five unskippable ads for some YouTube users as part of a separate test – an unexpected development that, naturally, didn’t go down well with much of the YouTube community. 

A resolution paywall seems a more palatable approach from Google. While annoying, the change isn’t likely to provoke the same level of ire from non-paying YouTube users as excessive ads, given that many smartphones still max out at QHD resolution anyway. 

Of course, if it encourages those who do care about high-resolution viewing to invest in the platform’s Premium subscription package, it may also be more lucrative for Google. After all, YouTube Premium, which offers ad-free viewing, background playback and the ability to download videos for offline use, currently costs $11.99 / £11.99 / AU$14.99 per month.

Suffice to say, the subscription service hasn’t taken off in quite the way Google would’ve hoped since its launch in 2014. Only around 50 million users are currently signed up to YouTube Premium, while something close to 2 billion people actively use YouTube on a monthly basis. 

Might the addition of 4K video into Premium’s perk package bump up that number? Only time will tell. We’ll be keeping an eye on our own YouTube account to see whether this resolution paywall becomes permanent in the coming months.

Axel is a London-based staff writer at TechRadar, reporting on everything from the newest movies to latest Apple developments as part of the site’s daily news output. Having previously written for publications including Esquire and FourFourTwo, Axel is well-versed in the applications of technology beyond the desktop, and his coverage extends from general reporting and analysis to in-depth interviews and opinion. 

Axel studied for a degree in English Literature at the University of Warwick before joining TechRadar in 2020, where he then earned a gold standard NCTJ qualification as part of the company’s inaugural digital training scheme. 

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Europe sets deadline for USB-C charging for (almost) all laptops

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Europe sets deadline for USB-C charging for (almost) all laptops

USB-C als Ladestandard in der EU

Mundissima / Shutterstock


Author: Michael Crider
, Staff Writer

Michael is a former graphic designer who’s been building and tweaking desktop computers for longer than he cares to admit. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.

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