Publications

Format: Feb 2016
Sector(s) Datesort ascending
Vodafone Q3 2015/16 results: Almost stable

Vodafone Europe’s service revenue growth continued its trend of gradual improvement, helped by solid contract net adds and sustained high data traffic growth, and is now almost stable

Project Spring network metrics performed strongly in the quarter, and there is some evidence of this translating into better operating performance in Italy, which enjoyed positive mobile service revenue growth for the first time since 2010

Problems remain for the company in its other key mobile markets however, all of which remain in decline. Although these issues may prove temporary, and Project Spring may yet offer them a boost, further pressure is on the horizon due to competitor consolidation and associated regulatory remedies

  • Vodafone
Telecoms 10 February 2016
Cyber blues: TalkTalk Group Q3 2015/16 results

Damage from the cyber-attack was revealed to be a 2% impact to the on-net subscriber growth, a 3% impact to Group revenue growth and a combined EBITDA and exceptionals cost impact of £75-80m, roughly double the previous guidance

An updated FY17 trading strategy promises “more conservative” price increases and greater focus on upselling mobile/fibre/TV to existing customers, while maintaining rather than growing the consumer base

FY17 guidance has been updated to account for cyber-attack related setbacks and trading strategy adjustments, now aiming for modest revenue growth and EBITDA of £320-360m and an implied margin of 17-20%

  • TalkTalk
Fixed Line, Telecoms 9 February 2016
BT Q3 2015/16 results: Fibre-driven accelerating revenue

BT Group’s revenue growth accelerated to 4.7% in Q3; while this was helped by some beneficial one-offs, including the TalkTalk cyber-attack, the underlying trends also looked strong across all divisions

Fibre adoption had a record quarter, with growth particularly apparent at BT’s DSL competitors, helping to drive Openreach’s external revenue growth to 7%

BT completed the purchase of EE at the end of January, and BT will keep EE separate for consumer but fully integrate for business. We are sceptical of consumer-side revenue synergies, but the business side and cost synergies will significantly benefit going forward

  • BT
Fixed Line, Telecoms 5 February 2016
Sky Q2 2016 results: innovation, service and bonding

Europe’s biggest pay-TV service provider Sky has delivered another strong quarter, which saw H1 adjusted operating profits across the group rise by 12% year-on-year on a like for like basis at a constant Euro exchange rate, and the upward trend clearly has a lot of mileage left in it

Although Sky UK & Ireland now generates almost all the current operating profits, the performances of Sky Germany & Austria and Sky Italy give cause for optimism and testify to the group’s deep commitment to top of the class innovation and customer service

In a converging online, telco and TV space, the appointment of James Murdoch as non-executive Chairman and entry of Showtime into the Sky Atlantic partnership of Sky and HBO send out a clear message from the TV side about the importance of global scale and ties between its members

  • Sky
Media, TV, UK Media 4 February 2016
China OTT and SVOD

China holds tremendous appeal to studios and OTT video services, boasting an audience of 460 million online video users in mid-2015 (69% of internet users), which could exceed 900 million by 2020 by our estimate

China’s OTT video marketplace generated estimated revenues of $5 billion in 2015, of which two-thirds was due to ad-supported streaming and the rest to paid video streaming

Netflix recently pledged to enter China, although the current regulatory environment presents substantial, perhaps insurmountable, challenges to a direct-to-consumer offering

Non-UK Media, Media, Mobile, Technology, TV 1 February 2016
Google’s exaggerated mobile trouble

Rumoured details of Google’s traffic acquisition deal with Apple and also the size of its Android revenue have prompted many to doubt the search giant’s prospects on mobile

Compared to previous analyst estimates and in view of Google’s traffic cost structure, we see the reported figures as positively rather than negatively surprising 

Since the mobile economy is still developing around the world, it is in our view misguided to evaluate the success of Android in revenue terms alone, since the OS responds to Google’s broader strategic aims            

  • Apple
  • Google
Media, Technology 29 January 2016
Will the young of today ever turn to trad TV?

The steep year-on-year decline in TV viewing among younger age groups has continued in 2015, with reported TV viewing by children 4-15 and adults 16-24 approaching 30% down on the peak of 2010

The downward trends notwithstanding, there are good grounds for believing that some of the new media consumption behaviours will fall away as today’s millennials move-up the lifestage ladder

In addition, half-yearly comparisons reveal a big slow-down in the rate of decline during H2 2015, suggesting that the explosive impact of smartphones, tablets, apps and social networks has almost reached its limits, while further change will occur at a much slower pace

Media, Telecoms, TV 15 January 2016
Channel 4 market impact

Channel 4 is a key pillar of the UK’s audio-visual economy. Its unique commissioning model fosters a hotbed of new creative UK talent, an ecosystem of independent producers, many micro

Channel 4 commissions a greater share of its budget than any other broadcaster, public or private, also fostering the creative economy outside the M25, and 9% of commissions will be to the Nations by 2020

The future success of the stand-alone independent production companies is not in the hands of ITV and Channel 5, but of Channel 4 and the BBC – the pure PSBs

  • Channel 4
Media, TV, UK Media 5 January 2016
Channel 4: sustainability and privatisation

The newly elected Conservative government is exploring all the options for privatising Channel 4, but faces a complex legislative pathway

The privatisation case would be made easier if the current model were unsustainable. Only, Channel 4 is delivering its remit with great success, is commercially sustainable, and promises both to remain highly sustainable and grow its PSB contribution through its current licence ending in 2024

Channel 4 privatisation offers small returns to the Treasury as long as the remit, IP ownership restrictions and ban on vertical integration remain in place

  • Channel 4
Media, TV, UK Media 18 December 2015
Pandora’s 2016 music royalties to rise 12%

The Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) delivered its Web IV ruling on statutory SoundExchange licensing rates for webcasters for 2016-20, raising Pandora’s total music royalty costs by a forecast 12% in 2016

Had the CRB sided with SoundExchange, rates for Pandora’s non-subscription tier would have shot up 79%, leaving the company floundering in a sea of red ink

Nevertheless, these increased licensing costs for Pandora over 2016-20 will postpone the moment when the company attains net profitability

  • Apple
  • Spotify
  • Vivendi
Internet, Media, Mobile, Music and Radio, Technology 18 December 2015
Used car marketing outlook

This is the third and final report in our annual review of vertical marketplaces (classifieds), focused on used cars, and follows Vertical marketplaces overview and recruitment outlook [2015-115] and Property marketing outlook [2015-116]. Auto Trader has long been the leading platform in cars – this was true in print, and the business is the greatest example of digital transition from print to digital we have seen anywhere in the world. Auto Trader was successfully IPO’d in 2015. The timing was good as the used car market is buoyant with many young cars coming to market following a period of intense new car purchasing, which was fuelled by attractive financing. Could Auto Trader be squeezed by the combination of specialist services Pistonheads and What Car? (Haymarket) at the top of the market, and Gumtree at the bottom? There is limited evidence of this to date, and AutoTrader is moving up the value chain, albeit without fundamentally diversifying its revenue model. The opportunities for growth from declining print revenue will shrink, however, and there is some downside risk for the market as a whole if car oversupply, driven by a decline in the number of used car buyers, become more accentuated.

Internet, Media 18 December 2015
European mobile in Q3 2015: Consolidation before convergence

European mobile service revenue growth again improved, albeit marginally, with the quarter’s gain driven by declines easing further in what nevertheless remain the three weakest markets: France, Italy and Spain. Generally stabilising pricing environments were a key factor although ARPUs in these markets remain largely in decline, under continued pressure from strong out-of-bundle revenue declines

In a post-consolidation world, H3G/O2 in the UK and Yoigo in Spain will be the only mobile-only MNOs in the top five European mobile markets, effectively cementing a convergence based future. Consolidation trends might point to the prospect of greater price stabilisation but a fresh land grab for the converged market could derail this

Overall, in spite of healthy underlying data trends, we continue to see medium term growth recovery prospects capped at around 1% given precedent from both the UK, where a healthy economy, healthy pricing environment and strong data trends have failed to exceed this level, and Germany, where post-consolidation revenue growth has reverted to negative territory, both due to competition and consolidation

  • EE
  • Hutchison 3G
  • Iliad
  • Orange
  • SFR
  • T-Mobile
  • Telecom Italia
  • Telefonica
Telecoms 17 December 2015
Property marketing outlook

This is the second of our three reports in our annual review of vertical marketplaces (classifieds), focused on property, and follows Vertical marketplaces overview and recruitment outlook [2015-115]. Zoopla Property Group (ZPG) has been hit by new entrant OnTheMarket, and has diversified its publishing and revenue models. But OnTheMarket is a red herring in the marketplace, delivering the same charging model more expensively for estate agents than leading portals Rightmove and ZPG. Property marketing expenditure has been resilient this year, and we expect it to be roughly flat (a little down in real terms) over the next two to three years, largely a result of the print-to-digital transition depressing spend, but also because estate agents are feeling squeezed. Local newspaper print decline will roughly offset increases at the property portals and elsewhere, though print spend at the top of the market – brands such as Country Life, the FT and the Telegraph – remains robust, despite deep declining volumes of £1.5m homes.

  • Rightmove
Internet, Media, Press 17 December 2015
Vertical marketplaces overview and recruitment outlook

Our annual review of vertical marketplaces (classifieds) is provided over three reports, with property and auto to follow, and this first report summarizing the macro trends, issues and outlook, as well as a detailed study of recruitment marketing. Taken as a whole we identify three critical themes in specialist markets:

• Portals are extraordinarily popular with consumers, growing their importance in the value chain; the print to digital transition is far from over
• But portal reliance on revenue growth from print decline is starting to retreat; revenue diversification strategies are emerging
• Nonetheless, disruption in vertical markets is stubbornly slow, with leading portals using paid media models (print models) to sustain their position.

The recruitment market is buoyant (up 10%), so portals, specialists and intermediaries are generally doing well, while local newspapers have lost some market share. Linkedin (professional social media, which has diversified into skills and training) and Indeed (freemium jobs aggregator, which provides performance charging and will introduce new services in 2016) are the key influences in the marketplace, and both are growing very strongly. The value chain in recruitment is being slowly restructured. Recruiter demand for highly skilled, specialist candidates does not have the labour supply to support it, sustaining marketing expenditure, though print spend continues to decline.

  • Auto Trader
  • LinkedIn
  • Rightmove
Internet, Media 16 December 2015
Canal+: things will get worse before they get better

Booming sales in Africa offset the steady decline of the Canal+/CanalSat subscriber base in France, delivering low but positive group revenue growth
 
Canal+’s management, now firmly under Vincent Bolloré’s control, is committed to reversing the French decline by investing €2 billion in new set top boxes and content – but production of original series is hampered by corporatist regulation and the market for sports rights is increasingly competitive

Earnings are slipping – under a high fixed cost model any revenue decline depresses profit margin. The trend will worsen under the weight of the increase in domestic football costs next year as well as the planned extra spend on content and set-top boxes 

 

  • Canal Plus
Media, TV 11 December 2015
UK mobile market Q3 2015: Stuck at 1%

UK mobile service revenue growth remained at 0.9% in Q3, but on an underlying basis growth increased 0.1ppts to 1.4%. This continues a trend of very gradual improvement in underlying growth over the past year, while reported growth has stayed constant at around 1% due to the re-introduction of regulated MTR cuts on 1 May 2015

Within the market, performances were mixed. O2 remains a service revenue growth star performer thanks to strong sustained contract net adds and stable contract ARPU while Vodafone’s service revenue growth fell back into decline as its contract ARPU suffered due to a sharp fall in out-of-bundle revenue. EE’s contract net adds were strong, but its contract ARPU growth remains weak, partly due to its renewed contract net adds performance being supported by low ARPU data devices and B2B

Since the end of the quarter, on 28 October, the CMA provisionally approved the BT/EE acquisition without conditions, and on 30 October, the EC opened an in-depth investigation into H3G/O2. Both acquirers would be wise in our view to be wary of making any rapid changes to branding and/or channel strategy, given that EE and O2 account for nearly 60% of UK gross subscriber additions between them and disrupting these sales will have a significant impact on subscriber growth, as EE’s experience since dropping Orange and T-Mobile has shown

  • EE
  • Hutchison 3G
  • O2
  • Vodafone
Telecoms 10 December 2015
UKTV - from pay to free

UKTV has continued its strong audience performance throughout 2015, and with Dave and Drama the company now has the two largest channels outside the PSBs

Growth has been driven by the effective use of the DTT platform with UKTV positioning its DTT channels to take advantage of the platform’s audience profile and sheer volume of viewing

Assuming UKTV maintains its commissioning spend we expect continued growth on free-to-air, but question marks remain on some of its more niche pay-TV channels

  • UKTV
Media, Telecoms, TV, UK Media 9 December 2015
Mobile-first, mobile-foremost: Smartphones to be 50% of online consumption in 2016

Smartphones will deliver half of all time spent online in 2016, and online time on smartphones will grow a further 50% by 2020. They are increasingly replacing the TV’s role as the primary provider of video content

There are stark differences in habits by age: young people’s smartphone use is highly substitutional for other media. Older people, who will account for most of the growth in time online, will add it on top of the time they already spend with other media, particularly TV

The implications of an increasingly mobile-only world are wide-ranging: social discovery and the mobile form factor change what works in content, while in-feed, branded content, payments and subscription are attractive alternatives to display and search advertising on mobile

Internet, Media, Mobile, Technology, Telecoms, TV 8 December 2015
UK Digital Upfronts 2015: going mobile

This year marked the second annual IABUK Digital Upfronts. As well as Facebook, Google/YouTube, Aol, Yahoo!, Twitter, BuzzFeed, Vice and others, several traditional media companies – Sky, The Guardian and Global Radio – participated, reflecting the rising importance of digital media and digital media buyers to their businesses

Many of the pitches were informed by the key shifts in online content: it is increasingly cross platform, driven by mobile devices and focused on video programming, and these formed the main themes of the event

A key piece of context is the rise of social media and the shift to programmatic buying, which continue to driven down pricing for all but the most valuable inventory – audience scale, high value audiences and premium content have never been more essential

  • Facebook
  • Guardian Media Group
  • Sky
  • Twitter
  • Yahoo
  • YouTube
Internet, Media, Mobile, Technology, UK Media 1 December 2015
Millennials: the mobile generation

Millennials are not the multimedia generation, as is often asserted, but the first entirely digital generation, and this is best reflected in their obsessive use of smartphones

The importance of mobile is not just as a communication device, because the smartphone has become an all-important tool, which this generation relies on for a much wider range of activities than older demographics

The implications for traditional consumer media are that smartphone distribution and discovery are the key strategic issues for the foreseeable future  

Media, Telecoms 1 December 2015

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