QueryOk 23 March 2018
James Barford was quoted in an article on Vodafone, which agrees to buy Spain’s Ono for $10 billion. The deal is part of a broader trend of mergers and takeovers in Europe, where the mobile industry is split among some 150 major operators crisscrossing national lines — compared to just four in the United States. Grupo Corporativo Ono S.A. provides phone, mobile and television services to 1.9 million customers and has the largest "next-International Lead Generation network" in Spain, reaching 7.2 million homes, or 41 percent of the country. Vodafone says Ono has abundant spare capacity, giving it space to expand. James said the price was high and was sceptical that the focus on "quad play" — the industry term for bundling phone, broadband, mobile and TV services — will pay off. He added "It's a little bit the tail wagging the dog in terms of justifying such a high cost. There's an assumption that 'quad play' is essential, but there really isn't evidence that consumers have a strong desire to buy the fixed line and the mobile services together".
Marketing Week 23 March 2018
Matti Littunen was quoted in an article on Mozilla, which becomes the first brand to pull ads from Facebook following Cambridge Analytica scandal. The company behind the Firefox web browser says it will not return to advertising on Facebook until there are strong protections around user data. Matti said “There are PR benefits right now in announcing a boycott, but ultimately what will matter for most advertisers is return on media investment”. He added “We don’t expect any big effect until advertisers are able to see the consumer response: will users abandon Facebook in droves in the core markets? If so, then an advertiser exodus will follow”.
NBC News 16 March 2018
Julian Aquilina was quoted in an article on big tech companies who are progressing their way into the world of live sports. Facebook, Amazon and Google, better known for making social networks and search engines, have spent the past few years buying up the rights stream live sports events over the internet. Though most of these contracts have been small compared to the billion-dollar agreements paid out by broadcast networks, the steady drumbeat of deals by tech companies with plenty of cash to spend has put the media industry on notice. Julian said “I think Amazon and Facebook have shown their hands and bought sports rights in the past. They will continue to pick on the fringes. They haven’t secured a major sport with exclusive rights. When they do that, it will be the day that everyone takes a step back and says, ‘They’re really here”.
IBC365 14 March 2018
Claire Enders was quoted in an article on the UK’s leading commercial broadcasters, ITV, Channel 4 and Sky, who have joined forces to champion TV advertising in the face of online threat. They had come together to mark the fact that ITV, Sky and Channel 4 had united to hold the Big TV Festival to celebrate the virtues of television as a medium and introduce those virtues to young digital natives in the advertising and marketing industries. According to Claire, the new wave of competition has unleashed 10 billion dollars a year of UK relevant content into the market. She said “we have never seen such an onslaught before”.
the Guardian 14 March 2018
Douglas McCabe was quoted in an article on NME, who published its final print edition on 9th of March. As a paid-for title, NME had spent years battling declining sales, with ABC figures from the second half of 2014 showing an average weekly circulation of around 14,000. So in September 2015, publishing company Time Inc revamped NME as a free magazine, bringing circulation up to a reported 300,000 copies per week. However, the disappearance of NME speaks to the complexity of the free publishing model – trickier than just ripping off the price tag – and forging a new identity from a brand steeped in six decades of music history. Douglas agrees that free isn’t a means to an end, particularly when translating a niche product for the mass market. He said “In the end, its very soul seemed to have been lost somewhere. Think about how Stylist has become the kind of magazine that people take home. You flick through NME for 10 minutes on the tube, which isn’t a deep enough relationship to really work”.
BBC News 14 March 2018
Joseph Evans was quoted in an article on Apple who is buying Texture, the magazine app subscription service, for an undisclosed amount. Texture offers US-based users unlimited access to more than 200 titles for a monthly fee of $9.99 (£7.19). It is currently owned by Next Issue Media, which is backed by magazine publishers Conde Nast, Hearst, Meredith, News Corp, Rogers Communications, and Time Inc. Joseph said "A lot of this is talking the talk. If they really wanted to help journalists, they could give publishers a waiver on the 30% tax Apple takes from App Store revenue. That wouldn't cost Apple anything, and it would be a big help to publishers. But instead they do these user-facing things". He acknowledged, however, that Apple's involvement could boost interest in the eight-year-old service, which in turn would help publishers earn more money.
the Times 6 March 2018
Douglas McCabe was quoted in an article on Trinity Mirror, which plans to change its name to Reach after its acquisition of the Express and Star newspapers, also revealed that Simon Fox, its chief executive, received a 19 per cent increase in his total remuneration package last year to £893,000. This was despite a 19 per cent drop in the company’s share price in the past 12 months. Like many print media companies, Trinity Mirror is struggling to find a workable business model at a time when print circulation is declining and advertising revenues are gravitating online. However, Mr Fox said that the company had delivered structural cost savings of £20 million in the year, £5 million ahead of the initial £15 million target set for the year. For 2018, it has targeted a further £15 million. Douglas said that the company’s profits had been resilient. He said “Consolidation is the best game in town in these circumstances. With revenue going to Google and Facebook, the greater scale you can bring to the marketplace, the better”, adding that Mr Fox had “a great track of pushing savings through”.
Financial Times 5 March 2018
Claire Enders was quoted in an article on Sky, the group founded by Rupert Murdoch, that is now at the centre of a flurry of deals by companies trying to keep up with Netflix and Amazon. Sky has grown from a risky bet that nearly went bust in its first year of operation into a pan-European media powerhouse at the centre of a bidding war and of an industry facing an identity crisis. Claire said “Sky is an extraordinary success story”, pointing to its record of increasing revenue at 5 per cent a quarter. She added that the company has withstood competitors: the likes of ITV Digital, BT and, more recently, Netflix have all threatened to damage Sky, but have not yet dented its growth. She said “in the years since Netflix launched its streaming in 2012 Sky’s record in terms of revenue growth is unbroken”.
Digiday 2 March 2018
Douglas McCabe was quoted in an article on the New Statesman, which is putting up a metered paywall. Later this month, readers will be required to register with an email address after hitting a limit of three articles a week. After five articles a week, they’ll be asked to subscribe for an annual fee of £144. Douglas said that although this will be the first step of the New Statesman’s subscriptions journey, it’s worth noting larger titles like the Financial Times are continuously tinkering with how to convert audiences to subscribers, “the focus has to be on the relationship between the editorial strategy and the membership strategy” he said. “It’s not a single switch; it’s a funnel with many switches”. A metered model allows the publisher to have the reach to convert audiences without giving away too much of its content. Audiences can be fully immersed and build habits through free-trial models. Douglas said “with metered models, you’re building a perverse emotional, attitudinal relationship with a potential member where they might not read one article in case there’s something more interesting another day. It builds friction at the heart of the system”.
BBC News 1 March 2018
Tom Harrington was quoted in an article on Sky which will allow viewers to watch Netflix shows on its Sky Q platform, later this year, in an attempt to tackle the threat posed by the popular streaming service. Customers will pay for Netflix as part of their Sky bill, although prices have not yet been announced. Sky said the move would make the entertainment experience "easier and simpler" for customers. While pay-TV rival Virgin Media has offered Netflix to its customers for some time, Sky has regarded it as an "existential threat to its service", said Tom. He added "It has inconvenienced its subscribers, who are more likely to have Netflix than those without pay-TV, because it has believed that its content was strong and exclusive enough to justify operating a walled garden. It seems as if that confidence has subsided and bringing a competitor on board - one that could potentially satisfy Sky's subscribers for a much lower price - is a risky move that cannot now be backed away from, but at least is a sure source of shared revenues".
Bloomberg 1 March 2018
Claire Enders was quoted in an article on the bidding war for Sky. Comcast’s interest this week puts Sky at the center of a global race for scale among media giants, with Comcast and Disney CEOs both calling the pay-TV company a “jewel,” and sets up a potential bidding war. On Tuesday morning just before the daily flurry of U.K. stock-market statements, Martin Gilbert, the co-CEO of fund manager Standard Life Aberdeen Plc and a consummate dealmaker, finds himself in the unlikely situation of being the broker for Sky shareholders with two billionaire media families. Moreover, at Sky, a case has been steadily building for Gilbert and the other independent directors to push Fox for a better offer, even before Comcast got involved. Premier League soccer viewing has rebounded this season and Sky came out a big winner in the league’s auction earlier in February for three more years of broadcast rights, paying less per game. The auction result added 5 billion pounds to Sky’s valuation, according to an estimate from Claire.
The Drum 1 March 2018
Matti Littunen was quoted in an article on ad fraud, which according to the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) forecasts ad fraud will cost brands more than $50bn by 2025, citing it as “second only to the drugs trade” as source of organised criminal income. Blockchain is geared towards recording every transaction along the supply chain, which could go some way in alleviating the some 70% of brands currently amending their media agency contracts to bring clarity to the buying process, particularly fee structures. Matti warns brands on how they approach it “Blockchain is a typical glitzy technology fix and it sounds like a silver bullet that’s going to solve these issues for the industry. However, they need to remember that even tech like blockchain calls for a trust between partners to set up, and strategic direction in terms of where the industry wants to go”. Marketers, he argues, should look to iron out the more fundamental issues in the industry that have to be solved before they look to deploy an entirely new technology.
Bloomberg 27 February 2018
Alice Enders was quoted in an article on Comcast which has jumped into the fray for Sky Plc, challenging Rupert Murdoch’s 21 Century Fox Inc. and Walt Disney Co. with a cash offer valuing the business at 22.1 billion pounds ($31 billion) and opening the possibility of a bidding contest for the U.K.’s biggest pay-TV company. Comcast sprung the offer on Sky Tuesday morning, its timing suggesting it sees an opening to win over U.K. officials and investors. Fox has been struggling to secure regulatory approval for its bid and some Sky holders have been agitating for a better offer after Disney’s $52.4 billion agreement in December to buy most of Fox’s film and TV assets, including its stake in Sky. Fox would hand full control of Sky to Disney if its takeover is successful. Alice said “It’s obviously a huge gauntlet that’s been laid down to the Murdochs in relation to their pre-existing offer. Sky’s success at the Premier League soccer rights auction this month made it more desirable”. She added “Sky is a very attractive business”.
Bloomberg 20 February 2018
Claire Enders was quoted in an article on 21st Century Fox which is sweetening its offer to U.K. regulators reviewing its takeover of Sky Plc, raising the prospect that Walt Disney Co. would guarantee the future of the European broadcaster’s news service. Rupert Murdoch’s Fox, which is in negotiations with competition authorities over its 11.7 billion pounds ($16.4 billion) purchase of Sky, proposed this week a funding guarantee of at least 10 years for Sky News, the U.K.’s first 24-hour news channel. Disney would inherit that commitment with its $52.4 billion purchase of most of Fox’s film and TV assets, including Sky. Claire said that the new guarantee should reduce concerns about Fox using control of Sky News’s budget as a way of exercising influence at the channel. She added “it’s a much thicker firewall. You could even say it’s an impregnable firewall”.
Arab News 19 February 2018
François Godard was quoted in an article on the broadcaster OSN which has signed the Middle East’s first partnership deal with US entertainment giant Netflix, signalling a shift in the region’s media landscape. François said the infrastructure of the Middle East meant the OSN-Netflix deal made sense. He said “When you are in a region where broadband penetration is lower, where payment systems are less developed, it makes more sense to (partner with) an established player. Netflix is a very opportunistic company. They believe in their model, so they are not afraid to partner with other people. We may see deals like this more in the future — why not a deal between Netflix and Sky (in the UK)?”.
The Drum 19 February 2018
Matti Littunen was quoted in an article on Keith Weed’s, Unilever marketing chief, speech at the IAB’s Annual Leadership Meeting last Monday, and the industry reactions. However, what on the surface seemed to be a bold statement of intent may not spur Google and Facebook into taking the action some industry observers have speculated they will. So while all parties publicly lauded Unilever and Weed’s public proclamations, there was also a vocal constituency that doubted the likelihood of a wholesale shift in philosophy, and business model, from the internet’s two-largest names. Matti argued that the power is in advertisers’ hands when it comes to pressuring Google and Facebook to change their ways. Although a sustained squeeze from the very top to the very bottom of their advertising operations will be required if the ills over brand safety and fake news are to be remedied. He said “it seems to be that FMCG brands are the ones who are most exposed to this and the most willing to move forward”. Matti added that while it feels like the brand safety debate will be everlasting, Google and Facebook have – in some respects – bowed to brand demands by introducing more stringent third-party verification systems and investing in both human and AI moderation.
The Times 15 February 2018
James Barford was quoted in an article on the Premier League’s British broadcasting revenue which is set to fall after a huge jump for the previous rights deal. With five of seven packages sold for £4.46 billion, down from a total bill of £5.14 billion in 2015, the rivalry between the bidders Sky and BT has calmed. This year’s auction took place as the companies faced other crucial issues, with Sky preparing for a takeover and BT recovering from an accounting scandal while grappling with a £14 billion pensions deficit. For BT, the stakes were equally high. The company is so far paying about 8 per cent less for all its matches this time round, but could yet spend more by winning the remaining packages. The outcome of the auction for BT received a mixed response among analysts. James said “It’s a small saving [overall] but they’ve only got one package. They might end up paying a bit more”.
Daily Mail 15 February 2018
Julian Aquilina was quoted in an article on the battle for the Premier League football rights, where Sky has emerged as the big winner sparking fresh criticism of BT's expensive foray into sports broadcasting. While Sky slashed the amount it pays per match, arch-rival BT is paying more. The blunder piles fresh pressure on Gavin Patterson, BT's embattled boss, who has overseen a £5billion spending spree on sport. Yesterday it insisted it had 'remained financially disciplined' in the Premier League rights auction, paying £885million for 32 matches per season – £9.2million per game. Julian said “some people will be pleased BT has not increased its spend, but it does look like they have missed an opportunity to reduce their costs per game. It's also worth remembering Sky could not actually be allowed to win the package BT won, and it's not clear who else would have come in with a bid for it”.
AFP Sport 15 February 2018
Julian Aquilina was quoted in an article on the results of the Premier League auction. The price paid per Premier League game has dropped from £10.2 million to £9.3 million for the time being following the latest deal. Sky held on to its position as the main broadcaster of live matches, claiming four of the seven available packages for 2019-2022, with BT taking the other package sold so far at a total combined cost of £4.46 billion ($6.16 billion). Sky's share price rose three percent on Wednesday after boasting how the new deal sees them paying 16 percent less per game than the previous agreement for their 128 games. Julian said "It is excellent news for Sky. Neither player was pushed to position themselves to bid for all the packages like the last time. They can still offer all the packages to their customers presuming no third party wins the other two packages".
The Drum 14 February 2018
Matti Littunen was quoted in an article on Keith Weed, Unilever’s chief marketing officer, who set to put the technology giants – Facebook and Google - on notice in a speech on Monday to major advertisers, media groups and technology companies at the annual Interactive Advertising Bureau conference. Unilever, the world’s second-biggest marketing spender, is threatening to pull its advertising from digital platforms such as Google and Facebook if they “create division”, foster hate or fail to protect children. Speaking to The Drum after Weed's speech yesterday, Matti suggested there wasn't a "one-size-fits-all" approach to addressing transparency and that not all brands are baiting with their marketing spend as. He said "Some big brands have indeed pulled a lot of spend from some of the online platforms, but other brands who are less concerned about the PR or have a different kind of business model have stepped in and said 'if they're moving budget then there's an opportunity for us to move into this space'. So it shows that there is much to be done before the whole industry is committed to the same kind of standards [as Unilever and P&G]".