Publications

Format: Sep 2018
Sector(s) Datesort ascending
Europe's Creative Hubs Update 2018

This third edition of Europe's Creative Hubs, produced on behalf of Bertelsmann, highlights the challenges of the digital age for enterprises of the creative industries of France, Germany and the UK from new consumer behaviours and the advent of new competitors and new forms of competition for users and customers from tech giants, Amazon, Facebook, Google and Netflix. The report calls upon policymakers in Europe to ensure a level playing field for traditional media in the key areas of taxation, competition law, privacy and data protection, highlighting the interaction of these three in the market for online advertising.

  • Bertelsmann
Media, Telecoms, TV 5 July 2018
Virtual Reality in 2018: Ready Player None?

Yet another annual hype cycle in 2018 can’t hide a tepid consumer appetite for all VR platforms and heavy weather for the industry as a whole

The launch of Oculus GO, a standalone device at an attractive price, is a milestone for VR; nevertheless, even Facebook remains worried about reach and the state of the industry

Mobile AR is still a strategic focus for Google and Apple, producing diverse applications instead of just games, but new headsets from Microsoft and Magic Leap which promise advanced MR experiences have no launch dates

  • Apple
  • Facebook
  • Google
  • HTC
  • Samsung
Internet, Media, Technology, Telecoms, TV 3 July 2018
Is CRR still critical to protect advertisers from ITV?

The workings of the TV advertising market are a mystery to most. Overlaying an arcane ‘share of broadcast spend’ trading mechanism is regulation in the form of CRR, which has prevented anti-competitive activity by ITV since 2003

CRR will protect advertisers ‘for as long as needed’. Most advertisers we canvassed believe it should stay in place, but the sell-side and auditors say CRR has passed its ‘Best before’ date and is heading towards its ‘Use by’ date

We propose a review of CRR by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to determine whether it is now helping or hindering the TV advertising ecosystem to become fit-for-purpose for the digital age

  • Channel 4
  • ITV
  • Sky
Media, Telecoms 27 June 2018
The home screen: distribution, discovery and data on connected TVs

The TV, the main screen in the house, is rapidly becoming connected to the internet, opening a new front in the battle for people's attention

Tech players, pay-TV operators, and manufacturers are all aiming to control the user interface, ad delivery and data collection, leaving incumbent broadcaster interests less well represented

To protect their position, and the principles of public service broadcasting, broadcasters will have to work with each other at home and in Europe to leverage their content and social importance

  • Amazon
  • Apple
  • BBC
  • Channel 4
  • Facebook
  • Freeview
  • Google
  • ITV
  • Netflix
  • Samsung
  • YouTube
Media, Telecoms 25 June 2018
Sky finally renews Serie A rights until 2021

Italy’s top football league awarded Sky the broadcasting rights to seven games per week from August 2018 until May 2021 for €780 million per year, up €208 million. UK-based Perform will carry three games for €193 million. Mediaset exits the market, freeing Sky from price competition

Besides Serie A, Sky added Mediaset’s Hollywood series and films to its content line up in May and will include the Champions League from August. We expect costs to rise by up to €500 million per year, which could be recouped by cuts in content and by recruiting Mediaset subscribers, notably on Sky’s new DTT feed

The best model for Perform would be to wholesale its new DAZN service to Sky, but even if a deal is found we doubt it could break even within the rights cycle

  • Sky
  • Sky Italia
Media, Telecoms 19 June 2018
Advertising after the turning point: when offline is the exception

Online advertising became the majority of all UK ad spend last year, in step with China but ahead of all other major markets. 

Direct response has further increased its share to 54% of UK ad spend, fuelled by the self-serve platforms of Google, Facebook and Amazon, while content media nets just 11% of the online advertising pot.

We estimate that all online-delivered channels - including "pure play" online properties, broadcaster VOD, digital out-of-home and online radio - could account for well over 60% of UK ad spend by 2020, but only with improved commitment to industry governance. 

  • Amazon
  • Facebook
  • Google
  • Sky
  • Spotify
Internet, Media, Mobile, Non UK Media, Technology, TV, UK Media 14 June 2018
UK broadband, telephony and pay TV trends Q1 2018: Diverging strategies

UK residential communications market revenue growth strengthened in Q1, but this was entirely driven by an overlapping price increase from BT, and the decline in market volume growth continues

Continued pressure on both subscriber volume growth and ARPU has led to diverging strategies, with most operators focused on sustaining ARPU, but TalkTalk chasing volumes at the low end, with the former approach currently proving more successful

Looking forward, the benefit of BT’s price rise will fall away completely next quarter and market revenue growth will likely resume its downward trend, but the nadir may be within sight if the flight to quality persists at most operators

  • EE
  • Liberty Global
  • Sky
  • TalkTalk
  • Virgin Media
Fixed Line, Media, Telecoms 12 June 2018
BBC iPlayer Boxsets: performance and what it tells us about on-demand viewing

The BBC is concerned with the performance of the iPlayer, handicapped by its inability to monetise its content. Nevertheless, as it moves towards an all-IP future, it is experimenting with new content strategies

Data from Digital-i shows that the iPlayer's Christmas Boxsets brought 360,000 unique viewers/week to the BBC portfolio; an audience which skewed encouragingly young

Furthermore, case studies of two of the programmes made available over this period—Peaky Blinders ​and ​Hard Sun—provide insight into how people consume content delivered this way, something that has been difficult to ascertain due to the major SVODs' secretive treatment of their own data

  • BBC
Media, Telecoms 11 June 2018
Disruption in Premier League football? 2018 auction finally over

The latest auction of live Premier League broadcast rights commencing in 2019/20 has concluded at last, with three different winners for the first time

The total sum has not been confirmed, but it looks to be down c. 10% from the previous auction at £1.55 billion per season—still substantial, and not far off the BBC’s entire TV content budget

As we predicted, Sky and BT remain dominant, winning 180 of the 200 games per season, whilst new entrant Amazon picked up one of the leftover packages at what looks to be a very low price

  • Amazon
  • Sky
Media, TV, UK Media 8 June 2018
European mobile in Q1 2018: North–South divide to exacerbate

European mobile service revenue growth was down slightly to 0.3% in Q1, with improving trends in all countries other than France, which was down sharply due to the closure of the VAT loophole and intensifying competition

Iliad's launch in Italy was somewhat muted but its focus on straightforward tariffs is likely to hold considerable appeal there, with hidden charges there commonplace and being investigated by the antitrust authority

We expect greater polarisation between the North and South as the year progresses, the key question marks being Vodafone's strategy in Germany, Iliad's traction in Italy, and whether Iliad's revamp in France will lessen or worsen mobile competition there​

  • EE
  • France Telecom
  • Hutchison 3G
  • Iliad
  • O2
  • Orange
  • SFR
  • T-Mobile
  • Telecom Italia
  • Telefonica
  • Vimplecom
Non-UK Telecoms, Mobile, Telecoms, Vodafone 8 June 2018
UK mobile market Q1 2018: Primed for revenue acceleration

Service revenue growth for the UK mobile market improved in the first quarter of the year, lifting from 1.0% to 1.2%. There was an easing of the EU roaming regulatory impact helping growth improve, but the SIM-only drag likely grew to counteract this, suggesting a modest underlying improvement overall

We expect continued market growth improvement in the coming year due to a number of tailwinds, namely annual price rises, the arrival of IFRS 15, and the EU roaming impact dropping out

The fundamentals of the market remain solid: competition is rational; pricing is firm; data demand is strongly rising; supply is partially constrained; MVNOs and convergence do not appear a threat

  • EE
  • Hutchison 3G
  • O2
  • Vodafone
Media, Telecoms 7 June 2018
Football embraces Chinese 'hot' money - at a risk

In a display of chutzpah, Mediapro acquired the Ligue 1 domestic broadcasting rights from 2020-24 in what is the most disruptive shock to the French broadcasting industry in a generation; one that is likely to accelerate Canal+’s decline, force a review of the outdated regulatory framework, and possibly spur an M&A spree.

The Mediapro move only makes sense as a highly speculative bid to resell the rights, or a dedicated channel, to French platforms in 2020. The odds are high that the broker ultimately fails to fulfil the contract, as just happened in Italy, where Sky is now expected to get the Serie A licence.

Precedents of new entrants acquiring domestic top-flight rights bode poorly for Mediapro, and for the league. The Ligue 1 may live to regret the introduction of a ‘re-sell right’ into its licensing terms.

  • Canal Plus
  • SFR
  • Sky
  • Sky Italia
  • Telefonica
  • Vivendi
Non-UK Media, Non-UK Telecoms, Media, Telecoms, UK Media 5 June 2018
News brands and reader subscriptions

Bleak prospects for digital advertising leave no choice to news publishers but to generate revenue from readers, and the lack of widespread frictionless micropayment options means there is no alternative to subscription — the vast majority of western ‘quality’ newspapers have rolled out paywalls; meters and registrations are the most promising approaches

Recent politics have increased demand for quality journalism and readiness to pay. Despite clumsy commercial models the rise in subscriber numbers is encouraging, but current price points may be too low for a sustainable digital transition. Churn is high, publishers have yet to fully develop and optimise ecommerce

The transition to an audience-centric model is a shift away from click bait, with distinctiveness, curation and news agenda hierarchy among the most important factors. Leveraging data to optimise audience engagement remains challenging

  • DMGT
  • Facebook
  • Google
  • Guardian Media Group
  • New York Times
  • News Corp
  • News UK
  • Telegraph Media Group
Media, Non UK Media, Telecoms 1 June 2018
Hitting targets, but pushing too hard? TalkTalk Group Q4 2017/18 results

TalkTalk hit both its subscriber and EBITDA targets for 2017/18, but Q4 contained some worrying trends including core consumer revenue in decline despite strong subscriber growth, with strong business revenue growth compensating

It held fast on guidance for 2018/19, although the 15% target underlying EBITDA growth is largely driven by regulated cost cuts, and revenue growth may be (again) achieved through the business side, which will be purely wholesale following the sale of its direct business customer base

Having spent the last few years not growing retail subscribers enough in a growing market, TalkTalk is now perhaps trying to grow too fast in a mature market, putting pressure on its ARPU from new and existing customers alike

  • TalkTalk
Fixed Line, Media, Telecoms, UK Media 31 May 2018
AV ad measurement – The JICs saw puzzles coming, complete with missing pieces

Technology has brought both capability and complexity to audience measurement. Joint Industry Committees (JICs) face the twin-headed problem of measuring the online versions of existing media, as well as a raft of new online media and formats across a range of devices

While JICs wrestle with discrete media, cross-media measurement is a melee of methodologies across platforms, devices and companies. The operational reality is an abundance of metrics – including the incompatible and unsuitable – but with crucial pieces missing, such as universal online currencies

Exuberant ad expenditure is masking online’s AV measurement weaknesses for now, and YouTube and Facebook may come to regret their lack of industry collaboration. Premium video is where incentives align, and there is a case for a new AV middle ground currency –but only if the tech giants are involved
 

  • Facebook
  • Google
Media, Telecoms 29 May 2018
French, Spanish and Italian telcos won’t bankroll further football rights inflation

The rights auction for France’s Ligue 1 will be held on 29 May. With Altice’s struggling subsidiary SFR unlikely to bid, Canal+ and BeIN Sports may not offer enough to meet reserve prices, triggering a postponement of the auction

In Spain, stiff fixed-line competition is shifting battlegrounds from football to scripted content. The Champions League has yet to sign up a platform for next season, while the upcoming 2019-22 La Liga rights auction may well fail to increase domestic revenues

With just 12 weeks before next season kicks off, Italy’s Serie A is also yet to secure a broadcaster, although we expect the league to back down and settle with Sky. In this deflationary environment, top clubs are eyeing a new Club Word Cup as an extra revenue stream – running the risk of further widening the financial chasm between themselves and smaller clubs

  • Canal Plus
  • SFR
  • Sky
  • Sky Italia
  • Telecom Italia
  • Telefonica
  • Vivendi
Media, Telecoms 24 May 2018
BT new Consumer strategy: Converging, but in a good way

BT has emphasised ‘convergence’ in its new Consumer strategy, but it has avoided most of the usual fixed-mobile convergence mistakes, with separate brands, minimal discounting and only slightly flawed converged products

The general strategy is to improve customer service to improve market share trends (particularly in broadband), enable premium products/positioning, and allow for cross-selling of a strong set of converged (in a broader sense) products, which is very sensible in our view

It does require extra spending in the short-term to improve customer service and the perception thereof (particularly in broadband) before premium positioning and cross-selling can be effective, therefore improved trends at the bottom line may take some time to come through

 

  • EE
  • BT
Fixed Line, Media, Mobile, Telecoms, UK Media 23 May 2018
Strategically challenged: Vodafone Q4 2017/18 results

The major change in trend evidenced in Vodafone’s Q4 results was a decline in mobile service revenue growth in Germany by 2ppts on the December quarter, in spite of record contract net adds and improving growth trends from its competitors

At least part of this deterioration is likely due to its strategic focus on converged products; we estimate discounts of around one third and question the rationale for this initiative, particularly given the admission that this is distracting from the core mobile business

Vodafone’s guidance for 1-5% group EBITDA growth next year reflects the challenging outlook and uncertainty in southern European markets, a more positive view on the UK, with Vodafone’s German strategy a major swing factor

Non-UK Telecoms, Telecoms, Vodafone 23 May 2018
European video-on-demand: Playing catch-up to the UK

The UK continues to lead the EU5 in take-up and consumption of video-on-demand services, with close cultural alignment and a historic williness to pay for TV content making it a receptive home for US SVODs

Netflix dominates in most markets, benefiting from high-profile US imports and big-budget local productions. Local SVODs are struggling, with those operated by FTA broadcasters facing considerable challenges

Collaboration between local broadcasters and pay-TV platforms is essential if they are to hold at bay the threat of Netflix and co., with an increasingly favourable regulatory environment opening the door for unprecedented collaboration

  • Canal Plus
  • Orange
  • Prosieben
  • RTL
  • SFR
  • Sky Deutschland
  • Sky Italia
  • Telecom Italia
  • Telefonica
  • TF1
  • Vodafone
Media, Telecoms 18 May 2018
BT Q4 2017/18 results: Slowing broadband bites, but recovery possible

BT Group met expectations for the 2017/18 financial year, but future guidance is very modest compared to previous performance and financial market expectations, with 2018/19 revenue and EBITDA both guided to decline by around 2% with capex rising

In our view, this weakened outlook is primarily driven by the ongoing slowdown and increasing competitiveness of the UK broadband market, with operating metrics at BT Consumer particularly weak

BT’s re-vamped strategy looks good in parts, and could deliver the incremental improvements necessary to outperform the new (much more modest) expectations, helped by existing – and likely continued – strength in mobile

  • EE
Fixed Line, Media, Mobile, Telecoms, UK Media 15 May 2018

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