the Guardian 14 August 2017
Alice Enders was quoted in an article on the Fox/Sky deal. Last week, culture secretary Karen Bradley again postponed calling in the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to scrutinise the deal, asking media regulator Ofcom to further examine the Murdoch’s and their adherence to broadcasting standards. Bradley has said she intends to call in the competition regulator to scrutinise media plurality issues (as the deal would see the Murdoch’s controlling UK assets ranging from Sky News to the Sun and Times newspapers), but has not made up her mind about whether to ask it to also look at broadcasting standards issues.
Alice said that Fox will not be overly concerned at the latest extension. Bradley is widely expected to leave the decision until after parliament returns from summer recess on 5 September. She added “Fox will … feel the CMA will give a fairer, depoliticised hearing. For Bradley it is about additional legal cover. She is taking very seriously the threat of a judicial review. She is being risk-averse, and the political environment [with no Tory majority] is unfavourable. She is being cautious”.
The Drum 10 August 2017
Tom Harrington was quoted in an article on Walt Disney’s plans to end their current deal with Netflix. Tom said "This isn't surprising, Disney has experimented with a standalone service in the UK (which appears to be struggling with less than 100k subs) and in China (which was pulled by the regulators after less than five months) and are making further investment into streaming provider BAM Tech. As one of the world's most-loved brands it will certainly think that it can go alone. The longer it waits the harder it will be to crack a US market that is in the tail-end of nascency. The last couple of years have seen content providers and content producers becoming increasingly wary of Netflix, with sentiments that deals do not adequately reward successful shows or that Netflix has used their acquired content to climb to ascendency, at the expense of their own platforms/channels. As a result, Netflix is bolstering its original productions and commissions, as it is seen as a more efficient spend and also out of necessity. We don't really know what people watch on Netflix but contrary to disproportionate attention paid by the press and the company itself, viewers likely prize films and TV shows from third parties. As these become a diminishing percentage of Netflix's worldwide libraries, the desirability of its original content will be placed under increasing scrutiny."
Bloomberg 9 August 2017
Alice Enders was quoted in an article on the Sky-Fox bid. Rupert Murdoch’s proposed takeover of Sky has met with further delays after the government asked the media regulator Ofcom to conduct further analysis of the mogul and his company’s adherence to broadcasting standards. Murdoch’s opponents have threatened Culture Secretary Karen Bradley with a legal challenge if she doesn’t also call for an investigation on broadcasting standards, in light of recent revelations of alleged misconduct at Fox News and an allegedly flawed approach by Ofcom. Bradley must decide whether to refer the deal to the Competition and Markets Authority for further review that could last six months. The ministry asked Ofcom to clarify parts of its report by Aug. 25. Alice said “this issue of whether to refer or not on broadcasting standards is probably causing quite a lot of headache. She has to be especially careful and will really want to get good external legal advice” said Alice referring to Bradley. The request for further information from Ofcom effectively rules out Bradley making her next move before Parliament returns from its recess on Sept. 5. Alice added “you can bet your bottom dollar that DCMS is not going to get through all this evidence in 24 hours, or even a week”.
The Times 7 August 2017
François Godard was quoted in an article on football sports rights. BT and Sky are paying a combined £1.7 billion per season for live domestic rights for the Premier League until 2019, betting that the fireworks and furore surrounding matches will bring in subscribers and advertisers. Instead of enjoying a clear path to their goal of happy punters and booming profits, the two broadcasters have challengers encroaching on the pitch. On one side are the pirates - a third of Premier League fans watched games regularly via illegal streams - and on the other are the giants, with speculation rife that the likes of Amazon, Google and Facebook want to muscle in on the game. It is clear where immediate attention is focused. Piracy disturbs some BT and Sky shareholders — with the broadcasters airing 42 and 126 fixtures, respectively, each year — as much as it frustrates their paying subscribers. François suggested that the heavily-promoted move “reveals they may have some concerns about take up”. BT investors “may become uncomfortable” if its rights investment continues to grow, he added that Sky also could be tied down because its room to lift prices “may be very limited”.
the Guardian 7 August 2017
Claire Enders was quoted in an article on John Malone’s global ambitions to dominate the global pay-TV market. The 76-year-old’s global ambitions mean he frequently crosses swords with Rupert Murdoch on his way to becoming the most powerful challenger to the octogenarian’s empire in the UK and Europe. Claire said “Malone’s stakes tend to be strategic and he is a prolific deal-maker. Malone and Murdoch have complementary business approaches. They are healthy frenemies.”
Sky News 3 August 2017
Julian Aquilina was quoted in an article on OFCOM's annual Communications Market Report. The report found that, on average, 16 to 24-year-olds watch one hour and 54 minutes of TV a day, compared with three hours and 32 minutes across all age ranges. Julian told Sky News "we estimate that the subscription streaming services are still roughly about 5% of video viewing. That's very small compared to the traditional broadcasters, for examples, who account for about 85% of viewing today. Having said that, they are making a dramatic leap forwards among younger people. We are expecting 10 years from now that people are going to be consuming a lot more of that sort of content, and we can only assume that other age groups will follow".
the Telegraph 2 August 2017
Douglas McCabe was quoted in an article on the future of house hunting. A new report by The Future Laboratory suggests that by 2025 we will be taking full advantage of big data, new advances such as gloves that simulate touch, and drones, in order to buy a house. Douglas said “‘whereas today an online property system might filter by budget and number of bedrooms, consumers in the 2020s will expect it to plug in to their personal data and know that they want a house with a south-facing garden, close to a railway station that serves their office, a school specialising in music for their daughter, and a jazz bar that serves great craft beer”.
the Guardian 31 July 2017
Claire Enders was quoted in an article on the inequalities of pay within the BBC. Claire said “the BBC is doing more than most media organisations to bridge the pay gap”. Half of the employees in the whole of Britain earn less than 1% of Evans’s wage and he is a minnow in the real business world.
The Hollywood Reporter 28 July 2017
Toby Syfret was quoted in an article on Sky latest plan to launch an OTT service in Spain by the end of the year. Toby said that much will depend on content rights, "it's not something you can easily do overnight". He added that "you can't just switch everything you got on satellite elsewhere into the OTT space, because it all depends on rights clearances. Sky has a big deal with HBO for Sky Atlantic. It can't just translate to new countries. It depends on what other deals HBO has in place there". Furthermore, one analysts suggested France, another top European market, as a future target for Sky, while Toby highlighted that Sky already owns a stake in streaming service Molotov there. Several analyst said that other European market would be a logical focus for Sky given its five core markets are in Europe. But Toby said that the company could even set its sights further away from home. "When you have got companies like Netflix and Amazon going around the world, you can see why Sky, and later Fox assuming its deal for Sky goes through, would be looking to develop these services in other parts of the world".
Les Echos 28 July 2017
Toby Syfret was quoted in an article on Sky, the pay-TV package from the Murdoch empire in Italy, Germany and especially in the UK, its domestic market, is currently slowly completing its June closed season on subscriber recruitment. Sky has recruited only 35,000 subscribers in the UK in the quarter, compared to 93,000 at the same time last year (280,000 new subscribers in 2016/17). In addition, churn rates climbed to 11.5%, up from 11.2% at the end of June 2016, and even from 9.9% to 12.6% in Germany, while revenue per subscriber stagnated or declined to 47 pounds In the United-Kingdom and at 34 euros. Toby notes that the distribution in satellite clusters is actually in a declining trend across the Channel.
Financial Times 25 July 2017
Douglas McCabe was quoted in an article on The Guardian plan to create a joint commercial sales operation. The UK newspaper is to press ahead talks to form an unlikely alliance with Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp to sell advertising. The plan, now known as project Arena, was a direct response to the alarming decline in print advertising revenues that has been upending the newspaper business. GMG is one year into a three-year reorganisation to slash costs and reduce heavy losses that had at one stage threatened the future of the organisation. But cash outflows in its past financial year were £67.3m — only slightly down from £72.3m in 2015/16. A total of 300 jobs went in a shake-up across the group, while The Guardian is set to go to a tabloid format from the first quarter of next year, a move that will save the business between £5m and £7m a year in 2018/19. Douglas said that to break even by 2019, the business would have to find a “further £45m of savings over the next two years”.
BBC 19 July 2017
Matti Littunen was quoted in an article on Google ‘news feed’ addition to their website and app. A personalised Facebook-style news feed will show users content they may be interested in before they search. It will display news stories, features, videos and music chosen on the basis of previous searches by the same user. Matti said "Google has a strong incentive to make search as useful as possible. Facebook's news feed is one of its main rivals. It is competing with other ways of accessing content. Search ads are more lucrative than in-feed ads such as Facebook's". He added that "Google's business is based on selling advertising, so this gives them more contact points with consumers”. However, the company did not divulge whether it would insert advertisements or sponsored posts into the feed, but Matti suggested that the focus of the service was to make Google more useful and drive users to its other services. Google has a long term project of anticipating user needs. It's a move to make sure people aren't going elsewhere for information".
Les Echos 19 July 2017
Tom Harrington was quoted in an article on Netflix decision to invest more on its own series and films. The firm believes that they are the most profitable futures. Even if this strategy widens its consumption of cash flows even more. Tom said "this is when the service, which targets 30% to 40% of internal production in 2019, compared to 25% today, will have muscled this segment to see the end Of the tunnel from a financial point of view”. Even if this strategy carries its risks "the consumer needs to appreciate".
BBC 19 July 2017
Gill Hind was quoted in an article on the S4C review, which has been commissioned by the UK government. The review will examine the remit, governance and funding of S4C, and examine how it can meet the future needs of Welsh-speaking audiences. Gill said that the review would need to focus on the challenges facing all public service broadcasters, "It needs to be able to make its content available on every single device, it needs to be able to do different types of programming. S4C should be appealing to every single age group, and thinking: 'What sort of content do they want and what's the best platform to deliver that?'". She added the fact that S4C's content was in Welsh may mean it is better placed to fight for attention in a crowded TV market.
Financial Times 17 July 2017
Claire Enders was quoted in an article on Dame Carolyn McCall, who will take charge of ITV next January. Although her appointment was widely welcomed by analysts and media executives, the boss of the no-frills airline will nevertheless need to steer the UK’s biggest commercial broadcaster through some potentially turbulent times. Under former chief executive Adam Crozier, ITV reduced its reliance on the cyclical advertising market by expanding its production division, ITV Studios, to become a major player in the international content business. But advertising still made up 47 per cent of ITV’s revenues of £3bn in 2016, and the problem for Dame Carolyn is that she is taking over just as the ad market heads into its most severe downturn since the financial crisis of 2009. Claire said “TV revenue is heading into the unknown, and there’s no end in sight to the decline of the core TV business”.
The Drum 17 July 2017
Gill Hind was quoted in an article on ITV’s four biggest challenges and how the new chief executive Carolyn McCall can solve them. McCall’s experience rising through the advertising sales ranks at Guardian Media Group to eventually become chief executive puts her in good stead to understand the commercial side of ITV’s business, which Gill believes is “hugely important” given the downturn in TV advertising since mid-2016. She added that “the market is likely to be down at least 5% this year so it’s clearly beneficial that the new chief executive has significant advertising experience and can support her commercial team. Her (McCall) skills nicely complement the current chairman, Peter Bazalgette, with his background in TV production. ITV has a strong operational team in place, so overall a very good appointment”.
The Hollywood Reporter 14 July 2017
Alice Enders was quoted in an article on the on Fox's Sky acquisition. Alice suggested that Fox would likely wait for what the CMA decides in its six-month review and discuss concessions then. "We are not sure 21st Century Fox has the appetite to lodge [an undertakings] offer [now], given the company’s incentive to obtain an expeditious process to clearance of the merger," she wrote in a recent report. "21st Century Fox may have an incentive to short-circuit the [undertakings] track and accept [a] CMA phase 2 [review]," which would likely lead to negotiations about concessions down the line, Alice said.
the Guardian 13 July 2017
Claire Enders was quoted in an article on Karen Bradley’s competition referral decision on the Sky/Fox deal. Bradley has given 21st Century Fox, which is controlled by Rupert Murdoch and his sons Lachlan and James, until Friday to offer further concessions to attempt to prevent the deal being referred to the Competition Markets Authority for further scrutiny. Fox will make a submission to Bradley that will criticise Ofcom’s review process and conclusions, but will not look to offer a remedy to strengthen the editorial independence of Sky News further to try to avert the deal being referred to the CMA. Claire said “at this stage of the process [Bradley] has only thin cover for any decision she makes. Her job is to get maximum cover from any potential judicial review in the future. To protect herself and Theresa May from blowback by depoliticising the deal as much as possible. For the Murdochs, if the alternative [to an in-depth investigation] is to be a political football they would probably view the CMA as a good option. They may even come out of it giving up less [than negotiating now]”.
Financial Times 12 July 2017
Douglas McCabe was quoted in an article on Bertelsmann announcement to expand its stake in Penguin Random House, cementing the German media conglomerate’s position as the dominant force in global publishing. The billion-dollar deal with Pearson gives Bertelsmann overall control of a company that is already a behemoth in publishing. The transaction should strengthen PRH at a time when publishers are facing pressure from Amazon, which dominates the ebook market. Douglas said “it’s important to have serious clout if you’re trying to negotiate with giants like Amazon, and that’s part of the recipe”, adding that, “Bertelsmann is adapting to the digital world, but they’re also taking the view that the business of physical books will remain robust, for the near future at least”.
Digiday 12 July 2017
Douglas McCabe was quoted in an article on Vox Media expansion. It has made its first international move with the launch of Eater London, the 24th city site the brand has set up, which is a lean operation of just two full-time editorial staffers, led by editor Adam Coghlan. It plans to publish between four and six text articles a day, but will also draw on freelancers, particularly well-known food critics Grace Dent and Marina O’Loughlin. Douglas said that there’s no doubt that food publishing is a busy market. He added that “the BBC particularly prominent in this category, and a wide variety of successful native businesses, led by Tastemade, which has a growing, impressive, well-targeted and curated U.K. presence”.