TalkTalk Group Q2 2017/18 results: Growth at a cost

TalkTalk continued to maintain positive broadband net adds in Q2 despite increased churn, and its on-net revenue growth turned positive as well, helped by the turnaround in subscriber growth trends and an overlapping price increase implemented during the quarter

The return to growth is taking its toll in marketing costs however, and the company is now guiding to a full year ‘headline’ EBITDA at the lower end of its previous given range, and this is after redefining ‘headline’ to exclude losses from its winding-down mobile business

the Guardian

22 November 2017 - 2:45pm -- Olga De Giovanni

Tom Harrington was quoted in an article on Amazon's $1bn bet on Lord of the Rings, which shows the scale of its TV ambition. However, Amazon must navigate its losses against a backdrop of below-par performance at its streaming business, where there have been too many multimillion-dollar failures. Consequently, Jeff Bezos, the company’s founder, announced a deal to make Lord of the Rings into a TV series. The mooted $1bn (£755m) cost – $250m for the rights, $750m to film six series, making it the most expensive TV show ever – illustrates the scale of Amazon’s ambition and Bezos’s growing frustration with the TV business. Tom said “buying Lord of The Rings is completely against their previous strategy. They are trying to buy their way out of their difficulties”.

Reuters

20 November 2017 - 5:01pm -- Olga De Giovanni

Francois Godard was quoted in an article on Altice’s shares, which have fallen 12 percent on Friday. On Monday, Patrick Drahi, Altice’s founder, said that Altice would shift away from acquisitions towards debt reduction and customer satisfaction, but concerns that Altice may need to raise cash hit its shares. Francois said that while Altice’s update might reassure bondholders in the short-term, in the longer run the company still needed to improve its underlying performance in France. He added “bondholders will be more comfortable once they see that the French operational performance is getting better”.

Financial Times

20 November 2017 - 11:56am -- Olga De Giovanni

Francois Godard was quoted in an article on Altice’s shares, which have almost halved in the past few weeks after poor third-quarter results were compounded by worries over its high levels of debt. In 2014, Altice acquired SFR, which still accounts for almost half of its revenues. This deal making has left Altice saddled with about €51bn of debt, much larger than the company’s €15bn market capitalisation and more than five times its earnings before interest, taxes, amortisation and depreciation. Investors want to see that Altice can manage the businesses that it has expensively assembled — particularly in France, its largest market. Francois said “besides sustaining network deployments, to turn around SFR, Altice needs to abandon short-term fixes, invest in its workforce and customer service and differentiate through valuable innovation — in other words the opposite of the model followed so far”.

OpenDemocracy

17 November 2017 - 10:58am -- Olga De Giovanni

Alice Enders was quoted in an article on the Sky/Fox bid. This week, the CMA has published a transcript of its first “expert round table” on the bid: that on media plurality (another on broadcasting standards will follow shortly). The review by the Competition and Markets Authority (the UK’s senior competition regulator) is what is known as stage 2 of the inquiry into this proposed merger, triggered by Karen Bradley, in September, after several months of scrutiny by the media regulator, Ofcom, whose inquiry was requested by Bradley, using her powers under the 2002 Act – media plurality being the only part of competition oversight of UK transactions of this size not reserved for the EU authorities. During the first expert round table Stewart Purvis, offered his own “theory of Murdoch”: the establishment of a right-of-centre broadsheet newspaper, alongside a raucous popular tabloid and an opinionated news channel – a pattern he identified in the US and in Australia, and now potentially in the UK. Alice gently deflated this conceit, pointing out that Sky in the UK is a family-friendly platform business, very different from Fox News in the US, which is primarily dependent on advertising revenue.

Altice in crisis as formulaic model flounders in France

The telecoms group has suffered a dramatic stock market correction following its Q3 results, as investors woke up to the continuous decline of its main unit, France’s SFR – leading its CEO to resign. Closure of a tax loophole will further erode SFR’s revenues by up to 4% in 2018

Despite being France’s largest fibre network, SFR’s broadband market share dropped 4ppts over three years. Notwithstanding grandstands on ‘convergence’ and expensive rights acquisitions, it is losing pay-TV subscribers – it looks unlikely to challenge Vivendi’s Canal+ in next year’s Ligue 1 auction

Wired

15 November 2017 - 10:58am -- Olga De Giovanni

Joseph Evans was quoted in an article on Uber, who had seemingly struck a deal with an investment group led in part by Japan's SoftBank. The deal, which would have seen SoftBank take a stake in Uber, seemed all-but-confirmed. Joseph said that this initial failure to secure investment is troubling for the company. He added “Uber being unable to lock down some of the easiest money in the world right now is a very worrying sign.”

TVBEurope

14 November 2017 - 3:36pm -- Olga De Giovanni

Tom Harrington was quoted in an article on the Amazon/Lord of the Rings deal. Tom told TVBEurope Amazon's reported $250 million deal to secure the rights to JRR Tolkien's Lord of the Rings will not be the last time a streaming service will win out over traditional TV. He said "the traditional broadcasters are already worried in terms of these large super-premium productions because they can’t afford them on their own. They have to go into co-productions which inevitably which they wouldn’t have done previously. Tom added “it’s somewhat difficult for them in terms of major super-premium scripted dramas like this because most broadcasters have to provide 24 hours of entertainment across a different number of channels whereas streaming services can concentrate their not inconsiderable spend on particular projects. At the moment it does tend to be these big one-offs but it is going to become more and more difficult for traditional broadcasters to win those auction-type arrangements for major productions". According to Tom, the deal is a major win for Amazon. "In terms of video, Amazon has had a bad few months and they need a win. Amazon has been worried that they haven’t had a hit in the way Netflix has with Stranger Things. So they’ve gone back to the easiest way of acquiring a hit, which is acquiring IP which has shown to be very successful in the past. A lot of people were in the market for this so Amazon has gone above and beyond to ensure they’ve got what they think will be a guaranteed winner."

Micropayments and Microsubscriptions: Beyond advertising

Digital advertising in the UK has been a phenomenal success story, but a concentrated one, such that many online media companies have not found a sustainable model

User payments are growing, but are currently focused on large, expensive bundles: Spotify, Netflix, the New York Times. This implements a hard division between free and paid and limits the potential audience

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