Publications

Format: Oct 2016
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Sector(s) Datesort ascending
Driving to Autonomous Vehicles (AVs)

The automotive industry is moving towards self-driving or autonomous vehicles (AVs) as a mass-market proposition, relying on a spate of partnerships with tech companies

Ridesharing in AVs is the obvious commercial application, with Uber and Google racing to launch pilots of their fleets

Many challenges lie ahead. AV developers claim current regulation is too restrictive, whilst regulators argue that mass market AVs do not yet meet safety standards

  • Amazon
  • Apple
  • Google
Non-UK Media, Internet, Media 30 September 2016
A room with a VUI: voice and Amazon Alexa

Amazon’s smart Echo speakers are coming to Europe, powered by a voice-controlled intelligent assistant, Alexa. Echo is thought to have found surprise success in the US

Alexa is best thought of as the most complete Voice User Interface (VUI) on the market. We expect VUIs to supplant graphical user interfaces for a variety of use-cases, in the home, on the move and in the car. Competition in this area is increasing

Alexa is being positioned as the Android for voice, moving beyond devices made by Amazon in an attempt to jumpstart adoption, and with developers building services on top of Alexa’s core voice platform

  • Amazon
  • Apple
  • Facebook
  • Google
Non-UK Media, Internet, Media, Mobile, Technology 29 September 2016
Clash of the retail titans: Amazon vs Walmart

The battle in the US between Amazon, ecommerce giant, and Walmart, the retail titan, reflects the changing face of US retail as online drives growth

Amazon, the everything store, innovates on marketplace, warehouse and logistics, and customer tools like Prime, while Walmart fortifies in-store and builds on its strengths 

Walmart cannot overtake Amazon online, but it can defend its position as the largest US retailer as Amazon drives an ecommerce future for retailing 

 

 

 

  • Amazon
Internet, Media, Technology, Telecoms 28 September 2016
European mobile in Q2 2016: Down but resilient

European mobile service revenue growth worsened slightly in Q2, dropping to -1.2% after three consecutive quarters at -0.8%. Southern Europe significantly outperformed the North, reversing the regional trend of recent years

EU roaming rate cuts and the increase in SIM-only subscriptions were the two main negative, albeit temporary, factors with the former particularly impacting northern European operators with heavy roaming exposure and the latter more varied in its impact across the EU5

Mobile service revenue growth was thus quite robust given these factors, helped by price firming in a number of markets. Looking forward, while the negative factors are likely to continue in the short-term they will drop out in two years in the case of roaming cuts, and SIM-only, whose impact is mostly profit-neutral to operators, will also reach an equilibrium in due course, and the market's overall resilience is encouraging

  • EE
  • France Telecom
  • Hutchison 3G
  • O2
  • Orange
  • SFR
  • T-Mobile
  • Telecom Italia
  • Vimplecom
  • Virgin Media
  • Vodafone
Non-UK Telecoms, Media, Mobile, Non UK Media, Telecoms, UK Media 27 September 2016
Sky's window of opportunity in Italy

After the dispute with Vivendi, Mediaset Premium faces mounting losses with no buyer in sight and increasing tension within the controlling shareholder family

Sky has managed to resume growth despite the loss of the Champions League (CL), mostly thanks to strong advertising sales

Next year, both CL and domestic Serie A, will auction the 2018-21 broadcasting rights. Sky will be in a position to substantially increase its range of exclusive football coverage

 

  • Sky
  • Sky Italia
  • Vivendi
Media, TV 22 September 2016
BT Sport: positive first year with the Champions League

BT Sport has seen a very clear positive impact from its first year airing the Champions League, with viewing up 60% year-on-year to June. Remarkably, its reach is now not too far off Sky Sports, though it still has some way to go in terms of consistent viewership

Pay-TV audiences for the 2015/16 tournament were in line with previous years – an impressive feat – but free-to-air disappointed. However, BT should not be too concerned – it has established itself as a worthy pay-TV partner

While BT’s execution has thus beaten reasonable expectations, BT Sport still carries a heavy net financial cost for BT, with debatable benefits. Yet, whatever the benefits may be, more viewers watching more often must surely help

  • BT
  • ITV
  • Sky
Media, TV, UK Media 16 September 2016
Untapped not tapped out: The Over 50s: systemic consumption and marketing misalignment
More than one third of the UK population is over 50 and this cohort is projected to keep growing. They account for substantial wealth, assets and expenditure, and reveal active multimedia engagement, providing real opportunities for brands 
 
Given their outsize impact, we believe the marketing industry underappreciates the diversity of habits among the over 50s. While 50-65s’ habits and consumer behaviour increasingly resemble that of younger cohorts, their spending power is far greater; expectations from products and services are higher and yet the placement, format and tone of marketing feels misaligned 
 
Online is a huge enabler that can help drive, shape and inform how over 50s spend their substantial wealth. But that can only be done effectively with a clearer understanding of behaviour and level of responsiveness to messages across media, from print to TV to online
  • Facebook
  • Google
Internet, Media, Mobile, Technology, Telecoms, TV, UK Media 14 September 2016
Apple Special Event 2016: a photo finish

Apple’s hardware progress at this year’s Special Event was more impressive than the software announcements at WWDC in June, though not at the level seen during the bumper launch of the iPhone 6

Improvements in camera technology and custom chips are preparing the iPhone for more drastic design changes and new location-based service categories in the future

Next year, faster development of both software and hardware is required to defend iPhone margins or user base growth, let alone both

  • Apple
  • Google
  • Samsung
Mobile, Technology, Telecoms 12 September 2016
UK mobile market Q2 2016: Revenue growth slows, profitability resilient

UK mobile service revenue growth dipped down in Q2 to -1.7%, with this being driven by some one-off factors, such as MTR and roaming cuts, and some longer terms trends, such as the continued rise in SIM-only

Profitability nonetheless improved at all of the operators, suggesting strong ongoing cost control, and that some of the revenue weakness is caused by factors that do not impact (or even positively impact) the bottom line

Competitive performances were mixed, with EE’s revenue growth improvement contrasting with dips at the other three operators, driven by EE’s strong commercial momentum and it taking the SIM-only and roaming hit earlier than the other operators

  • BT
  • EE
  • Hutchison 3G
  • TalkTalk
  • Virgin Media
  • Vodafone
Media, Mobile, Telecoms 5 September 2016
Digital video retail market in the UK

The UK retail market for digital movies has shown steady growth, but has not offset the decline in physical sales. While iTunes remains the UK market leader, Sky is clearly driving the growth with its Buy & Keep offering, backed up with the reassurance of physical product

However, a move away from the collector mentality alongside the growth of a subscription mentality will affect long term prospects. This is not helped by the consumer proposition for digital retail, which remains disjointed, lacks inter-device operability and a clear consumer benefit

Without co-ordinated efforts and investment from the studios, content owners and retailers to resolve these issues, we believe the opportunity for digital video retail in the UK is limited. Even with that, the EST market may never be as profitable as the DVD home video market

  • Amazon
  • Apple
  • Google
  • Microsoft
  • Sky
  • Sony
  • TalkTalk
  • Walt Disney
Media, Technology, TV, UK Media 1 September 2016
The matter of Peak TV, and what it means for the UK

Whether the US has reached “Peak TV” —the apogeic volume of original scripted series—is debatable, but the mass of content being produced is unparalleled

As television continues its transition from a disposable medium to a permanent one, and an increasing number of outlets are creating original, scripted programming to keep up or differentiate, does this American explosion have ramifications for the UK consumer or broadcaster?

Simply put, the UK’s more concentrated television landscape limits exposure. And, counter-intuitively, an unsustainable focus on scripted drama could play into the hands of the traditional broadcasters, whose future strength may lie in the diversity of their offering

  • 21st Century Fox
  • BBC
  • Channel 4
  • NBC Universal
Media, Non UK Media, TV 31 August 2016
Volumes slow, but revenue robust: UK broadband, telephony and pay TV trends Q2 2016

UK residential communications market revenue growth was broadly unchanged at 5% in Q2, despite volume growth continuing to slow across all products, with pricing and fibre adoption helping to boost ARPU

The combination of weakening market growth and an accelerating Virgin Media (on the back of its Project Lightning network extension) is putting pressure on the other operators, all of which were weak in subscriber terms

These factors bode for a competitive Q3 with the major operators offering very aggressive promotions in the battle for subscribers at the start of the football season. Underlying pricing though looks firm with price rises already implemented, scheduled or expected in Q4

  • BT
  • Sky
  • TalkTalk
  • Virgin Media
Fixed Line, Telecoms 23 August 2016
A third digital ad force: Verizon and Yahoo

To diversify revenue in a saturated US mobile market, telecoms giant Verizon Communications followed an earlier merger with AOL by acquiring Yahoo for $4.8 billion

The combined online ad platforms are likely to become the most viable contender for third place in the US, after Google and Facebook

Verizon’s mobile subscriber data could narrow the market leaders’ targeting and measurement advantage, but regulation and customer reception pose risks

  • Yahoo
Non-UK Media, Non-UK Telecoms, Internet, Media, Mobile, Non UK Media, Telecoms 15 August 2016
US and UK: Cord-cutting-shaving-nevering

Cord-cutting has become a major headache for US pay-TV operators in the last three years, while cable network channels face further erosion due to cord-shaving and we now see a rapidly growing population of cord-nevering households that have never taken a pay-TV subscription  

Should we expect it to be only a matter of time for the UK to follow the US? The short answer is no, due to major differences in the pay-TV market infrastructures of the two countries, which leave the UK much less exposed

However, downward pressures from the online space do exist in both countries, while the big cord-cutting-shaving-nevering threat we now see in the UK has most of all to do with the chill Brexit winds on the economy

  • BBC
  • BT
  • Channel 4
  • ITV
  • Netflix
  • Ofcom
  • Sky
  • TalkTalk
  • Virgin Media
Media, Non UK Media, UK Media 12 August 2016
Channelling strength: Virgin Media Q2 2016 results

Virgin Media had its strongest June quarter since 2008 with 43k broadband net adds (31% of market net adds), of which Project Lightning contributed less than half. Current momentum remains largely dual play with continuing, though stable, net losses in the TV base

Content investments, and an upgraded UI and STB will be at the centre of TV promotions as refreshed triple play bundles are launched towards the end of the year in a bid to reinvigorate premium pay TV competition. In a saturated premium pay TV market, base stabilisation should be the near term target

Pressure on revenue growth from price increase mechanics, discounting, one-offs and other factors are set to ease from next quarter, in tandem with increased Project Lightning contributions. As we enter the football season, attention turns to wholesale content costs following a record breaking rights auction last year

  • Virgin Media
Fixed Line, Telecoms 12 August 2016
Amazon Prime Air pilots in the UK

Amazon will test three possible features of their drone delivery system in the UK, which could make this novel shipping solution for small packages viable

When it launches, Prime Air will be limited to a catchment area of 2.3 million homes in the UK, with further exclusions for no-go areas for drones like airports and urban areas

Prime Air’s UK pilot will help the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) craft the rules for future drone delivery by retailers

  • Amazon
  • Google
Media, Technology, Telecoms 11 August 2016
The Bank lowers UK growth forecast

The Bank’s monetary stimulus will help restore confidence and smooth the economy’s post-referendum transition

If the Bank is right, the economy will avoid a recession and bounce back in Q2 2017

An advertising recession in 2017 still looks likely until the consumer gets his wind back and a growth path emerges

  • Facebook
  • Google
Media 9 August 2016
Sky firing on all cylinders: FY 2016 results

FY 2016 has been an excellent year, with all three Sky markets showing improved performance as Sky delivered 7% revenue growth (5% after adjusting for 2016 being a 53-week year) and 12% increase in operating profit

The success reflects Sky’s commitment to product and service innovation and diversification in an increasingly fragmented marketplace combined with tight control of back office costs and focus on synergies

As a measure of its success, Sky has set new cost synergy targets of £400 million annual run-rate by FY 2020 and is aiming for continuing middle to high single digit growth in revenues, which should let it comfortably absorb the rising costs of Premier League and Bundesliga live televised rights under the next contracts

  • Sky
  • Sky Deutschland
  • Sky Italia
  • Vivendi
Media, TV, UK Media 8 August 2016
Openreach: The Seventh Degree of Separation

Ofcom’s latest proposal for the structure of BT’s Openreach sits neatly between BT’s offer and its competitors’ demands, and is broadly sensible if the Pension Fund and cost issues can be resolved

Ofcom has been under pressure from MPs, consumer groups, BT’s competitors and others to ‘sort out’ BT given its perceived under-investment, despite UK broadband consumer outcomes being the best among European peers on nearly all objective measures

Ofcom’s focus on separation is therefore understandable, but we believe misplaced; while technical governance details are debated, BT’s share price (and hence ability to invest) languishes, and more concrete steps to give investment certainty get put on the back burner. Ofcom might be encouraging investment in theory, but not in practice

  • BT
Fixed Line, Telecoms 4 August 2016
BT Q1 2016/17 results: Not shabby

BT Group’s revenue growth was roughly unchanged in the quarter at 0.4%, with continued strong consumer growth mitigated by regulated and structural challenges in the rest of the Group

Both broadband and superfast broadband adoption is slowing, but BT is compensating with improving market share for the former, and the prospect of further uplifts from ultrafast for the latter

Regulatory uncertainties are likely to continue to weigh, with the current Openreach debate to be closely followed by the not-exactly-unimportant issue of copper and fibre pricing/regulation from April 2017

  • BT
  • EE
Fixed Line, Mobile, Telecoms 4 August 2016

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