Virgin Media Q1 2018 results: Good, but beware headlines

The highlight of Virgin Media’s Q1 results was the return to growth for its UK cable ARPU (+1.3%), although the improvement in trend should be interpreted with caution due to accounting changes

Headline group revenue growth of 5.2% was boosted by profit-neutral handset sales, with underlying growth of around 3.2% – still strong in the sector context

Virgin Media continues to do relatively well in the increasingly challenging UK broadband market, but with evidence of limited pricing power, sluggish roll-out and subscriber growth, revenue trends look set to slow

Vodafone/Liberty Global deal: Slim economics and regulatory risk

Vodafone’s acquisition of Liberty's assets in Germany and Central Europe is likely to face regulatory scrutiny at the EU – and possibly also German – level. We view Vodafone’s expectation of closure in mid-2019 with no remedies as unlikely

The economics of the deal for Vodafone are slim, highly reliant on extracting sizeable synergies, and vulnerable to operational risk and potential remedies for regulatory approval, particularly in Germany

Media Week

11 May 2018 - 4:41pm -- Olga De Giovanni

Matti Littunen was quoted in an article on the advertising industry. In recent years, the big story in the advertising industry has been the soaring market share of digital disruptors such as Facebook. At first glance, the idea that traditional media might come back into fashion seems outlandish, and the growth of the digital giants appears to be continuing unchecked. Despite recent scandals over data privacy, Facebook posted strong first-quarter results, as did Google parent Alphabet. By contrast, advertising group WPP has endured a torrid year, culminating in the exit of chief executive Sir Martin Sorrell. His departure led to claims that the writing is on the wall for the traditional advertising agency. However, Matti said that there is “no uniform picture of panic across established media. In fact, there are a number of positive stories as well”. TV advertising, for example, has proved remarkably robust.

UK TV Production: Working for Netflix, Apple and the rest of the FAANGs

We interviewed the biggest hitters in the UK television production sector, asking them about the current issues affecting their industry, such as consolidation, Peak TV, and Nations and Regions quotas

Most pertinent, however, was the production sector’s relationship with the new buyers—Netflix, Amazon, Apple et al.—and how their approach to them differed for each one, as well as traditional broadcasters when pitching, negotiating deals or producing programmes

Video viewing forecasts to 2027: continued divergence by age group

Our latest forecasts predict traditional broadcasters will account for 72% of all video viewing in 2027, down from an estimated 82% in 2017, reflecting the continuing adoption of online video services across all UK age groups

Additional viewing of online short-form content such as YouTube will keep pushing overall volumes higher, with SVOD services serving more as a substitution for linear TV

Wall St Shuffle: Spotify’s non-IPO

Spotify is now the world’s first publicly listed on-demand music streaming service. Its global footprint generated €4 billion in 2017 from over 70 million paying subscribers and 90 million ad-funded users across 65 countries

As it expands, the service is steadily but surely moving ever closer to profitability, with a 2019 operating profit a very real prospect

Covert growth in UK mobile

The UK mobile market is growing strongly – we estimate revenues by 5% and EBITDA by 8% in 2017 – excluding one-off regulatory drags and the loss of non-profit-generating handset revenue

Regulatory price cuts end in mid-2018, and the handset effect will disappear from all reported figures from April 2018, leaving scope for very positive headline growth next year – considerably better than its European comparators and the sluggish UK fixed market

European privacy: New Wave in the Old World

For much of the online media industry, GDPR compliance has stalled at basic data audits and box ticking, as firms wait for the rest of the privacy regime to emerge

But weighing technicalities of legitimate interest and consent misses the point: transparent consumer value will be the only sustainable basis for processing personal data

The scrutiny of Google and Facebook privacy practices involves an added antitrust dimension, potentially leading to processing limits as remedies

Trinity Mirror and Northern & Shell raise regulatory hackles

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) halted the merger of the publishing assets of Trinity Mirror and Northern & Shell, and is inquiring into the merger’s likely impact on competition in the national newspaper market

The CMA will take into account efficiencies of £20 million in newsrooms, printing and advertising sales, which if realised could help sustain national news provision in a failing print market transitioning to digital services

Blockchain: Reinventing the wheel

Despite the hype, systems based on the technology underlying bitcoin are a poor match for most use-cases

The term 'blockchain' is nowadays applied to technologies with shared aims and ideals rather than technological unity; few if any of these aims require true blockchain, any many are double-edged swords

The promises of blockchain are seductive in the context of programmatic online advertising, but are over-sold

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