Format: Nov 2015
Sector(s) Datesort ascending
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
UK broadband, telephony and pay TV trends Q3 2015: Volumes steady, ARPU bounces up

UK residential communications revenue growth bounced up in Q3 as we had predicted, on the back of continuing solid volume growth and improved ARPU growth driven by a series of price increases impacting in the quarter

The overall revenue growth of 6% was supported by some one-off factors, such as overlapping price increases and the launch of BT Sport Europe, but we believe that growth at this level will be sustained for the next two quarters at least

Looking forward, the impact of TalkTalk’s cyber-attack is uncertain in the detail, but it will clearly slow TalkTalk, benefit some of the others and may temporarily impact market volumes. Another area of competitive uncertainty is the impact of Virgin Media’s network extension as it gathers momentum into 2016, with all of the others likely to lose significant share in Virgin’s expanded areas

  • BT
  • Sky
  • TalkTalk
  • Virgin Media
Fixed Line, Telecoms 30 November 2015
US entertainment groups and consolidation

US entertainment groups have enjoyed strong revenue growth thanks to pay-TV, subscription video-on-demand and international sales, despite headwinds on the advertising market and downward pressures on retail pay-TV prices

Media merger and acquisitions have mainly failed, but strengthening the hand of the content producers in relation to distribution channels remains relevant and arguably even more important due to the sheer financial and audience size of digital operators, although the studios' pricing power remains unchallenged

21st Century Fox could then justify a new bid for Time Warner, although it will struggle to address TW's objections to the previous offer without taking on a huge pile of debt

  • 21st Century Fox
  • Turner
Media 27 November 2015
Challenges old and new: TalkTalk Group Q2 2015/16 results

TalkTalk’s results revealed a challenging market environment, with it struggling to maintain its broadband subscriber base given the onslaught from larger and more differentiated competitors

Revenue growth was still a healthy 6%, but this was helped by acquisitions, price adjustments and low margin mobile, with its EBITDA falling despite the drop in broadband customer growth and associated costs

Its cost savings programme and marked price increases are likely to allow it to grow EBITDA this year and next, with the impact of the cyber-attack being significant but short-lived, but its declining retail customer base is a longer term concern

  • TalkTalk
Telecoms 24 November 2015
YouTube Kids app lands in the UK

The YouTube Kids app aimed at young children hands parents more control of the increasingly popular YouTube experience
Ads served to kids on the app will observe similar rules to those on broadcast TV, easily circumvented on YouTube by commercial video programming 
The app will directly compete with the popular ad-free CBeebies iPlayer channel, TV channels and Netflix

Media, Technology, TV 23 November 2015
Retransmission fees: a Pandora’s box

The government is expected to announce a Digital Bill in Q1 2016 that will propose profound changes to the structure and funding of the public service broadcasters (PSBs) in television, one of its aims being to enable them to extract retransmission fees from pay-TV platforms, valued at £200 million a year or more for the commercial PSBs

So far the government has only committed itself in its March 2015 consultation paper to the repeal of Section 73 of the Copyright, Designs and Patent Act (CDPA 1988), which in isolation will adversely impact only the Virgin Media cable platform

Now its ambitions appear to go far beyond introducing retransmission fees towards dismantling the entire UK PSB TV regulatory infrastructure of privileges and obligations and paving the way towards vacation of the DTT spectrum

  • BBC
  • Channel 4
  • Five
  • ITV
  • Sky
  • Virgin Media
Media, TV, UK Media 20 November 2015
Vodafone Q2 2015/16 results: Growing fixed disguises weakening mobile

Vodafone Europe’s revenue growth trend continued to improve, and the improved operating leverage allowed it to return to EBITDA growth after years of decline

Its mobile business was however more mixed, with improved contract net adds but worsening ARPU and revenue still firmly in decline, with growth from its recently acquired cable businesses partially disguising this

The benefits of its Project Spring investment are not yet clear, and the current wave of in-market mobile consolidation may leave Vodafone a weaker player across much of its footprint

  • Vodafone
Telecoms 13 November 2015
Activision: the new King of the games industry

Activision’s announcement of its intention to buy King, the maker of Candy Crush, for $5.9 billion, is a major strategic play but positions the company well as it seeks to broaden its exposure to the growing mobile games market

Activision has answered the “build or buy” question by looking to King to strengthen its capabilities in key areas: specifically mobile development, online gameplay, customer acquisition and retention analytics, as well expanding its range of revenue streams

Other mobile and online game developers are now under renewed focus as possible acquisition targets by major developers. Enders expects more acquisitions in this space in the near term

Media, Technology 12 November 2015
In the League of Champions: Virgin Media Q3 2015 results

Virgin Media had its strongest quarter for three years in broadband net adds market share – a robust performance in a competitive environment and very much in line with recent strong performances at both Sky and BT

Group revenue growth improved 1ppt, or 3ppts adjusting for distortions, driven by accelerating growth in all operating divisions although higher content and hardware input costs offset the benefit to margins

The Project Lightning network expansion program continues, targeting 250k new premises by the end of 2015, with a discernible impact to subscriber and revenue growth likely to be apparent from the start of 2016

  • Virgin Media
Telecoms 12 November 2015
Trinity Mirror buys scale with Local World

By fully acquiring Local World, Trinity Mirror has bought scale advantage in the local media marketplace, and accelerated a much needed growth story for digital assets.

The medium term outlook for local media continues to look stormy, underlining the importance of investment in technology and new platforms for publishing, journalism and marketing, essential for longer term sustainability.

Consolidation is needed to drive a more cost-effective investment phase as the transition to digital continues apace, provided the competition authorities do not interfere.

  • Johnston Press
  • Local World
  • Trinity Mirror
Media, Press 11 November 2015
Apple's iPhone advantage

Apple’s results underlined its status as the tech industry’s biggest and most profitable company due to the iPhone, accounting for two thirds of the company’s revenue and capturing three quarters of all smartphone profits

While the iPhone dominates the $500+ handset market, the question is how will this segment develop as smartphone penetration approaches maturity in developed markets and mobile operators restructure handset subsidies

The shift to separate airtime and device plans could increase consumer price sensitivity, but leasing plans with annual replacement, supported by the iPhone’s strong second hand value, bring the opportunity of faster replacement cycles, with upside and downside risks matched

  • Apple
Non-UK Telecoms, Internet, Media, Mobile, Technology, Telecoms 9 November 2015
YouTube Red: Google’s original bid for premium content

At launch, Google’s new subscription service YouTube Red competes most directly with premium music streaming services, also offering ad-free videos

YouTube’s augmented revenue model re-boots incentives for native talent to produce content for the platform, and will also widen its appeal for established content producers

Although consumers are likely to find paid subscription for ad-free videos a weak proposition, Red holds much potential for YouTube as it competes for attention across device ecosystems, and presents little risk to its existing advertising model

  • Amazon
  • Apple
  • Google
  • Netflix
  • Spotify
  • YouTube
Media, Mobile, Music and Radio, Telecoms, TV 6 November 2015
BT Q2 2015/16 results: Sport distorts, but underlying results strong

The launch of BT Sport Europe pushed up BT’s revenue and pushed down EBITDA in its Q2 results, but underlying revenue growth was strong across all divisions and cost control continued, with the company well on track for its full year guidance

BT Sport itself is being executed well, both in terms of viewers and direct revenue earned, but is not having a discernable impact on broadband figures, nor a game-changing impact on BT’s modest pay TV base, despite its very considerable net cost

On the regulatory side, BT has secured a strong result with the EE merger being provisionally approved without remedies, but debates over the future of Openreach continue, with the related issue of ultrafast roll-out regulation of particular import

  • BT
Fixed Line, Telecoms 5 November 2015
Watching TV and video in 2025

Television has seen massive change and it has held up remarkably well since the era of satellite and cable dawned in the US in the mid-seventies; but now there is a sense of transformation in the air as broadcast TV gives ground to limitless video on multiple screens

Viewing habits are changing very rapidly indeed among the under-35s due to a combination of cohort and life stage factors, although we are also seeing change among older age groups

In spite of all the change that is now taking place, our latest long term forecasts point to the broadcast sector as continuing to account for the greater share of viewing for many years to come absent government intervention, which cannot be ruled out

Media, TV, UK Media 4 November 2015
EE Q3 2015 results: Strong subs, ARPU still weak

EE reported strong mobile contract net adds in Q3, after a string of weaker performances earlier in the year following the closure of Phones 4U and retirement of the Orange and T-Mobile brands

Contract ARPU growth remained at -3.1%, keeping mobile service revenue in modest decline (-1.4%), a disappointing result in comparison to modest positive growth at its rivals in recent quarters, although improving subscriber numbers should start to bridge this gap

Fixed broadband subscriber growth suffered in a competitive quarter, with EE unable to maintain momentum when faced with the launch of BT Sport Europe and corresponding increased marketing spend from Sky

  • EE
Telecoms 29 October 2015
BT's away game

BARB viewing figures provide an encouraging start to BT in its first season showing Champions League and European televised rights; numbers are on a par with those achieved by Sky over the previous few seasons

The investment in rights is not just about achieving good viewing figures - BT’s entry into televised sports is as much about supporting its broadband and pay-TV business in the face of increasing competition from Sky and others

BT has reported results for the September quarter with record-setting TV net adds and steady broadband net adds, confirming that while Sky arguably won the broadband battle, BT won TV, and neither really lost in either category

  • BT
Fixed Line, Media, Telecoms, TV, UK Media 29 October 2015
UK consumer perspective on Internet of Things

The UK is a prime market for sales to consumers of IoT products with obvious and compelling use cases: wearables surf perennial social trends such as fitness and diet, while smart home solutions address energy use, safety and security

British Gas’ Active Hive Heating, first to market and the top smart thermostat brand in the UK, is facing competition from the Nest Learning Thermostat from Nest Labs, while Samsung’s SmartThings provides safety and security in the home

A substantial barrier to sales of IoT products to consumers lies in their concerns regarding the privacy and security of the personal data collected online. This data should be safe under the UK’s data protection regime, although well-publicised hacks highlight compliance issues on the part of data controllers

  • Apple
  • Google
  • Samsung
Internet, Media, Technology 29 October 2015
Sky Q1 2016 results: positive start to the year

Sky has got off to a good start in 2016, as Q1 group revenues grew by 6% and operating profits by 10% year-on-year, while churn stayed low across all three operations, and product net additions of close to one million pointed to continuing strong underlying growth

The Q1 results have softened concerns about the impact of loss of Champions League live televised rights in the UK and Italy, which have so far shown very little effect in spite of intense competitive pressures from BT and Mediaset

Although Sky UK & Ireland has accounted for the entire year-on-year increase in Q1 operating profits, strong subscriber growth in Germany & Austria over the last two years, and signs that economic conditions in Italy are on the mend, provide a positive outlook for the year ahead

  • Sky
  • Sky Deutschland
  • Sky Italia
Media, Telecoms, TV, UK Media 27 October 2015
ITV acquires UTV TV - where next?

The launch of UTV Ireland in the Republic has proved less than successful for UTV Media and has led to its divestment and that of its Channel 3 licence in Northern Ireland

ITV has bought UTV Television for £100m cash and will own 13 of the 15 regional Channel 3 licences, though we do not see a play for STV in the medium term

UTV Media is now able to fully focus on its main profit centre – its growing radio business in the UK and Ireland

  • ITV
Media, Music and Radio, TV, UK Media 26 October 2015
European mobile in Q2 2015: Improving, up to a point

European mobile service revenue growth improved to the highest in over four years driven by improvements in the three slowest growing markets of late. Out-of-bundle revenues are still declining at a rate of over 10% but data revenue growth trends point to underlying strengths in the revenue profile. Looking at the longer term picture begs the question as to whether the quarter’s improvement can be repeated over the next 18 months, transforming the industry into one with extremely healthy revenue growth of 5%-10%; on balance we are not very optimistic

Two major in-mobile transactions are yet to be approved by the EC, namely H3G/O2 in the UK and an H3G/Wind JV in Italy. The recent precedent from Denmark is somewhat discouraging, although the Danish consolidation was unusual in some respects. Nonetheless comments from the new competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager suggest that regulatory caution towards 4-to-3 mergers is still high

Progress towards convergence is continuing with few operators in a post-consolidation world being either 100% fixed or 100% mobile. Convergence has to date been discount-led and damaging to market revenues, but post-consolidation, operator rhetoric has been reassuringly more focused on intentions for increased investment in both LTE mobile networks and high speed fixed networks

  • EE
  • France Telecom
  • Hutchison 3G
  • Iliad
  • O2
  • Orange
  • SFR
  • T-Mobile
  • Telecom Italia
  • Telefonica
  • Vodafone
Mobile, Telecoms 14 October 2015