Publications

Format: Jul 2015
Sector(s) Datesort ascending
Content marketing: publishers' saviour?

Brands are investing more than £5.2 billion a year in content strategies, £1.2 billion of it with consumer media, and investment is growing at 25% per annum, massively outstripping growth in traditional advertising

Content marketing defies the broader direction of travel in the digital era – response-measured programmatic advertising – by expressing value in content and context, much of it at the top of the discovery funnel

In a rapidly converging marketing value chain some consumer publishers are adopting agency values and practices by responding to the changing demands and expectations of their advertisers

Internet, Media, Press, UK Media 6 July 2015
A new Fox bid for Sky: when, not if

News Corp’s original bid for full ownership of BSkyB was withdrawn because of the phone hacking scandal. It was never blocked by regulators. Had it not been for the scandal, the bid would almost certainly have been approved.

With the phone hacking scandal fallout largely over and the election of a friendly government, the climate is now much more favourable to a renewed bid. With undertakings, we believe it would be approved by regulators.

The increasingly global scale of TV and film distribution means the commercial case for the bid is, if anything, stronger now than in 2010. The questions are simply whether the right price can be agreed, and how high up it is on James Murdoch’s list of priorities.

  • 21st Century Fox
  • News Corp
  • Sky
  • Sky Deutschland
  • Sky Italia
Media, Technology, Telecoms, TV, US Financials 1 July 2015
BT Sport - the Champions?

BT will soon for the first time charge the majority of viewers for their own channels with the launch of the BT Sport Pack. The Pack includes BT Sport Europe, home to UEFA’s European football tournaments from this August, the rights to which BT are paying £299 million a year

Viewing figures for the big European tournaments are not as high as one might expect given their prominence. Consumer demand for the new channel will also be highly dependent on the success of British teams, notably lacking in recent seasons

We therefore do not expect a dramatic impact on BT Sport (or BT broadband) subscribers, and the widening losses will put pressure on BT’s margin squeeze test regulation, although they are easily absorbable at BT Group level

  • BT
  • ITV
  • Sky
Media, Telecoms, TV, UK Media 30 June 2015
European mobile in Q1 2015: Another improvement, but not in Spain

European mobile service revenue growth improved once more in Q1, rising 1.1ppts to -1.6%, continuing a trend of underlying growth improvement that started in Q3 2014. The improvement was mainly driven by easing declines in France and Italy but deteriorating performance in Spain meant that Europe-wide growth did not improve by as much as in the last two quarters

Pricing stabilisation appears again to be the main driver of recovery (in those countries that are recovering) with more rational pricing allowing operators to monetise rapid data usage growth. However, more price cut moves have been made in France since the end of the quarter, Italy remains an inherently unstable market and Spain again suffered this quarter from convergence discounts

As data usage continues to grow rapidly, customer concern for high quality data networks increases, which makes investment in superior 4G networks a clearer differentiator for operators to convey to customers. The UK market leads the EU5 in this regard, and has taken advantage through rationally priced tiered data plans, but this effect spreading to the rest of the EU5 is a source of optimism as 4G roll-outs continue across Europe

  • Hutchison 3G
  • Iliad
  • Orange
  • T-Mobile
  • Telefonica
  • Vodafone
Mobile, Telecoms 25 June 2015
UK broadband, telephony and pay TV trends Q1 2015: Weak ARPU, strong volumes, stronger fibre

The UK broadband market remained strong in Q1 2015, backed up by healthy volumes, with a modest weakness in ARPU causing revenue growth to slow to 4.5% from 5.7% in the previous quarter. ARPU growth was particularly weak at BT and Virgin Media, with part of this due to one-off factors, but part due to the dilutive effect of increased promotional activity

Broadband volumes continued to modestly accelerate, pay TV volumes modestly decelerated and line rental growth levelled off. The highlight was high speed broadband, with market net adds continuing to rise, driven by increased marketing and BT’s roll-out reaching more rural areas where the speed improvement is more marked

Since the end of the quarter, Vodafone launched a new consumer dual play product. Launch pricing is at the bottom end of the current price curve, but not well below it, suggesting that it is wisely imitating EE’s approach of cross-selling a profitable product as opposed to deep discounting on broadband to build mobile market share

  • BT
  • EE
  • Sky
  • TalkTalk
  • Virgin Media
  • Vodafone
Fixed Line, Telecoms 24 June 2015
Apple at WWDC: intelligent design

Apple has confirmed the launch of Apple Music, its streaming music service, available on iOS devices by the end of June, and later on Android. Priced at the same level as Spotify’s premium tier and lacking a free ad-supported offer, much hinges on the appeal of its curation tools.

Other key announcements included a news app, the roll-out of Apple Pay to the UK, improvements to maps, and new operating systems for Mac, iPhone/iPad and Watch.

The main theme was one of increasing intelligence in services, with Music and News both being curated and the software getting better at understanding and predicting user needs. This is a necessary step to prepare for the next wave of consumer technology: wearables and connected devices.

  • Apple
  • Google
  • Spotify
Media, Music and Radio, Technology, Telecoms 18 June 2015
UK mobile market Q1 2015: A little growth, less convergence

UK mobile service revenue growth continued to improve, rising to 1.2% in Q1, a modest figure but still the best of the five largest European mobile markets, albeit weaker than the UK consumer fixed line market (4%-5%)

O2 continued to be the strongest grower of the ‘big 3’, and maintained over 40% share of contract net adds. Both Vodafone and EE appear to have suffered from the demise of Phones 4U, having been its biggest (and latterly its only) network operator suppliers. EE is also suffering from the gradual withdrawal of its Orange and T-Mobile brands, which is forcing it to work harder to both attract and retain customers

Vodafone launched a competitively priced consumer fixed broadband offer on 10 June. EE has shown that there is an opportunity for Vodafone to have some limited success cross-selling broadband through its shops, but O2's mobile-only success and EE's struggles in its mobile business suggest that this will not drive improved mobile performance

  • EE
  • Hutchison 3G
  • O2
  • Vodafone
Mobile, Telecoms 17 June 2015
Channel 4 adapting to change: 2014 annual report

After a testing 2013, which saw an 11% fall in audience share of main Channel 4, 2014 has seen a £30 million increase in total revenues to £938 million and return to financial surplus for the first time since 2011

Channel 4 is much more challenged than any other PSB group as well as much of the non-PSB sector by the steep recent decline in viewing among younger age-groups, yet has stuck close to its public service remit of reaching out to the 16-34s and a wide selection of minorities while maintaining its investments in programme origination

A buoyant TV advertising climate, innovative approach to content investment and focus within the digital space on getting to grips with the changing viewing behaviours of the 16-34s point to strong revenue growth in 2015

  • Channel 4
Media, TV, UK Media 16 June 2015
Amazon Prime and the video market

DVDs are a core Amazon product, of which it is one of the largest retailers – the challenge is to sustain this position throughout the on-going transition to digital formats

Amazon Prime Instant Video’s first purpose is to help the transition by building Amazon’s digital video retail ecosystem. As part of the loss leader Prime bundle it also supports increased customer retail expenditure and stickiness

Despite strong headline growth in Prime membership and some high profile content, the streaming service has yet to generate significant consumer interest. Prime’s net cost is likely to rise as Amazon must finance content to meet rising consumer expectation while suffering competitive price pressures on the bundle

  • Amazon
  • Netflix
Internet, Media, TV 11 June 2015
UK quarterly internet trends Q1 2015

The latest numbers for Q1 2015 show strong device and internet user growth, with more of the population online than ever before, including more than 90% of under-55s. Growth amongst older groups, however, has slowed to a crawl

Participation in online activities is up across the board, but digital media data shows spend on ebooks and digital music struggling, with the latter being heavily impacted by the rise of unlimited streaming models such as Spotify

The story of mobile's surge continues, with almost a half of e-commerce transactions and a third of search and display ad spend now going to mobile. Most of these mobile devices are Android, but iPhone seems to have gained long term share with its larger phones. Google services, however, have cross-platform reach

  • Amazon
  • Apple
  • Facebook
  • Google
Internet, Media, Mobile, Music and Radio, Technology, Telecoms, UK Media 5 June 2015
Vodafone Q4 2014/15 results: Modest improvement, but not in Germany

Vodafone Europe’s revenue growth improved again in the March quarter, but not by as much as the previous trend, or by as much as the mobile market in general

Operational trends look more solid, with data growth continuing to accelerate and Project Spring delivering improvements in some markets

The biggest blip was in Germany, a quad play market for Vodafone, and we remain sceptical of the operational benefits of convergence as Liberty Global merger speculation re-surfaces

  • Vodafone
Mobile, Telecoms 4 June 2015
TalkTalk Group Q4 2014/15 results: Steady underlying growth

TalkTalk accelerated subscriber and revenue growth in the March quarter, but stripping out the effect of acquisitions we estimate that organic growth was roughly in line with the previous quarter

Its EBITDA grew 15% for the 2014/15 financial year, but margin expansion reversed in H2, with lower gross margin and higher broadband marketing costs causing the damage

The company’s 25% EBITDA margin target in 2016/17 continues to look challenging, but continued strong revenue growth and some margin expansion looks likely

  • TalkTalk
Fixed Line, Telecoms 29 May 2015
UKTV bucking the viewing trends - 2014 results

UKTV 2014 results show a 2% increase in total revenues and a 10% year-on-year increase in EBITDA to £74.1 million, though the costs associated with the launch of Drama in 2013 will have contributed to the higher EBITDA increase

The 2% total revenue increase is surprisingly low, since we would have expected a circa 8-9% increase in UKTV’s main advertising revenue stream in 2014 due to a 5.4% increase in total TV NAR on top of a 2.9% growth in UKTV adult SOCI during 2013, with the lagged revenue benefits accruing in 2014

Whilst the outlook for 2015 appears very promising, the focus is now on investment in content, above all on new commissions, as a driver of revenue and audience share now that the factors behind UKTV’s successful rise since the Freeview launch in 2002 have largely played out

  • UKTV
Media, TV, UK Media 29 May 2015
Virgin Media Q1 2015 results: A pause in momentum

Virgin Media’s subscriber trends were a little weak in Q1 compared to previous trends, with intense promotional activity from competitors hurting, but it still expanded its base

ARPU was also relatively weak due to various VAT and pricing changes, but it still grew, leading to cable revenue growth of 3% versus 4% in the previous quarter, and OCF growth of 5% versus 9% in the previous quarter

This growth level is likely to accelerate over the year as subscriber momentum improves and one-off effects annualise out, with the benefits of footprint extension mainly impacting from 2016

  • Virgin Media
Fixed Line, Telecoms 27 May 2015
Future of the BBC - no immediate need for the blues

With both the current Royal Charter and licence fee settlement expiring in the next two years, press headlines proclaim the BBC has much to fear from the new Conservative government

Having read through the Culture, Media and Sport Committee's recent "Future of the BBC" report, which was led by the newly-appointed Culture Secretary, we do not share the same view

However, any reduction in BBC funding is likely to lead to further tightening of TV and radio programming budgets, with far reaching consequences across the entire UK creative sector

  • BBC
Media, Public Policy, TV 20 May 2015
BT Q4 2014/15 results: Revenue a bit weak, fibre great

BT had a somewhat mixed March quarter, with growth in consumer still strong but weaker than before, growth in UK corporate weak and even weaker than before, but fibre growth re-accelerating and cost-cutting very strong

The company is still well on track, with 2015/16 revenue guidance reflecting fibre-driven consumer growth countered by UK corporate weakness, and EBITDA guidance reflecting strong cost-cutting partially mitigated by extra football rights costs

Operationally the next few months will likely be dominated by the launch of BT’s Champions League coverage and associated marketing, with various regulatory processes keeping the company busy at the strategic level

  • BT
Fixed Line, Telecoms 19 May 2015
Video games: buoyant year ahead

The Game Developers Conference (GDC) and Mobile World Congress (MWC) saw major announcements in virtual reality and new generation streaming game consoles, as well as further opening up of access to game engine software

Latest earnings reports show that major publishers and developers are currently in buoyant form as growth in the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One install base boosts revenue and consumers migrate to digital sales

Results for developers dependent on the mobile or online ecosystem are more mixed: King (producer of Candy Crush) continues to grow, but Zynga is struggling, although recent performance hints at a possible halt in its decline

  • Microsoft
  • Sony
Media, Technology 13 May 2015
US music publishing 2014-17

The US music publishing market, worth $2.2 billion in 2013, is poised for moderate CAGR of 2.5% in the period 2014-17, thanks to performance royalty growth from broadcast and new media uses, offsetting flat mechanicals as the physical-to-digital transition in recorded music continues to place pressure on this revenue line

ASCAP and BMI, the performance rights organisations, have been engaged in an intense period of litigation against Pandora, the popular ad-supported streaming service with around 80 million users, in which Pandora has prevailed

ASCAP and BMI have also sought to loosen the consent decree regime in place since 1941 and overseen by the Department of Justice in order to enable "market-driven" rates, but this effort also looks set to fail in light of the firm opposition of all classes of licensees

  • Bertelsmann
  • Vivendi
Media, Music and Radio 11 May 2015
US and UK TV ad markets - apples and pears

The US is seeing steep decline in measured TV viewing by younger age-groups and rapid increase in digital media adspend, prompting fears about the future of TV ad revenues across the major broadcasters and cable networks. The UK has seen similar trends, prompting suggestions that it will see similar effects

However, comparison of US and UK TV ad revenue trends since 2000 shows big differences in the underlying growth rates after taking economic factors into account. These undermine the inference that the decline in viewing and rise in digital adspend will have similar effects on either side of the Atlantic

Examination of the US and UK TV ad markets further points to big differences across a raft of major variables relating to supply and airtime trading practice, such as can be expected to yield very different outcomes with respect to TV ad revenue growth

  • 21st Century Fox
  • Channel 4
  • Discovery
  • Five
  • ITV
  • NBC Universal
  • Turner
  • Viacom
Non-UK Media, Media, TV, UK Media 7 May 2015
EE Q1 2015 results: Strong metrics, weaker revenue growth

EE reported improved mobile service revenue growth in Q1 but it is still shrinking at -1.7%; a disappointing performance now that all of its competitors have moved back into growth

The main causes of its underperformance appear to be the impact of the gradual retirement of the Orange and T-Mobile brands, and the loss of sales from Phones 4U which closed last year, with differentiation through superior 4G not (yet) able to make up for these factors

EE’s fixed line business was the star of the quarter with 50k customers added and 15% revenue growth. It seems to have cracked the formula of cross-selling broadband into its mobile base, a useful skill in the current market context

  • EE
Mobile, Telecoms 6 May 2015

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