Publications

Format: Nov 2017
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Sector(s) Datesort ascending
Internet Trends H1 2017: Fruits of the mobile revolution

With smartphones in the pockets of 3/4 of the UK population, and accounting for over half of all online minutes, the mobile revolution is in its final stages, allowing us to survey its impact

As the number of social media users continues growing, untapped older demographics and Instagram help the Facebook suite of apps grow in the UK, but Snapchat is the social media app of choice for UK teens

News publishers face issues with brand attribution as social media platforms overtake search as the main news aggregators online, while small UK video publishers have become unlikely winners in a global market for soft news, infotainment and gags that dominate social video

 

  • Apple
  • BBC
  • Facebook
  • Google
  • Twitter
Internet, Media, Mobile, Technology 5 September 2017
Voicing concerns: virtual assistants and the media

Voice, and the smart virtual assistants that power voice interfaces, will be a key transformative force over the next five years

Any business providing content or services via digital means is potentially affected, as these virtual assistants promise a single front end for all digital services, representing an extraordinary concentration of control over discovery, delivery and data

Media businesses will clearly be affected. But there is an opportunity for them right now to influence the assistant providers to their advantage, a window that will not stay open forever

  • Amazon
  • BBC
  • Google
  • Samsung
  • Sky
Internet, Media, Technology, TV 23 August 2017
UK broadband, telephony and pay TV trends Q2 2017: Dead cat bounce?

UK residential communications market revenue growth bounced up to 3.6% in Q2, a full 1.4ppt improvement on the previous quarter and reversing the downwards trend of the previous two quarters. However, this was entirely driven by price rises at BT and Sky, with the ongoing market volume growth decline continuing at pace

In competitive terms, TalkTalk was the only operator able to improve its broadband net adds on a year earlier, and Virgin Media was solid with only a modest decline, leaving BT and Sky shouldering the worst of the slowdown, albeit with neither company doing particularly poorly given the market context

New customer pricing remains tight, with Virgin Media in particular becoming more competitive. Looking forward, we expect volumes to continue to slow, and for the pricing boost enjoyed in Q2 to largely drop out next quarter, leading to a renewed revenue growth slowdown

  • BT
  • Liberty Global
  • Sky
  • TalkTalk
  • Virgin Media
Fixed Line, Media, Telecoms, UK Media 23 August 2017
Channel 4: relocation and dislocation

Channel 4 revenues and content spend hit record levels in 2016, but the company faces a declining TV advertising market in 2017 due to a weaker economy and competition

The company’s ability to deliver its unique remit to audiences and producers is also under pressure from Government proposals to move staff outside London

Because Channel 4 can only commission, a move will not stimulate a creative cluster. Risks to the remit include the loss of talent and lower content spend due to higher opex 

  • BBC
  • Channel 4
  • ITV
Media, TV, UK Media 16 August 2017
News, disinformation and Facebook

Facebook content shares suggest that misinformation had broad reach during both US and UK political campaigns, but outright fake news was rare, particularly in the UK 

Mis- and disinformation by both established and new publishers was distributed on Facebook, but monetisation took place predominantly off-site, and content was distributed by a wide range of search and social platforms 

Facebook has acted to limit the reach of disinformation, but can’t and shouldn’t be expected to do so alone as digital news distribution touches on complex questions including information and democracy, media literacy and heterogeneous cultural and social norms

  • Facebook
  • Independent Print Ltd
  • Johnston Press
  • New York Times
  • News Corp
  • Telegraph Media Group
  • Trinity Mirror
Media, Technology 16 August 2017
Virgin Media Q2 2017 results: Mixed quarter, but still the fastest

Virgin Media’s subscriber figures in Q2 were a little mixed, with total homes and broadband figures weaker than a year earlier, but pay TV much stronger. ARPU growth fell though, largely due to price increase timing effects, leading to a modest dip in revenue growth

Project Lightning premises passed during the quarter rose to 127k, making at least some progress towards upping its run-rate after changing its roll-out management team and approach, the company declined to give indications of how this will evolve

The broader market context is still one of slowing broadband volume growth, and Virgin Media continues to take market share, being the fastest growing of the ‘big 4’ in both subscriber and RGU volumes

  • Liberty Global
  • Virgin Media
Fixed Line, Media, Mobile, Telecoms, UK Media 15 August 2017
BT Q1 2017/18 results: Back to growth (for now at least)

BT Group revenue returned to growth, at least temporarily, helped by overlapping price rises in consumer, one-off regulated price cuts on leased lines annualising out, and mobile handset sales improving

Regulatory news was unusually positive, with Openreach taking the initiative on FTTP, and BT winning an appeal against damaging leased line regulation, which may end up being significantly eased

BT continues to do well in consumer and struggle in business markets, with the ongoing deceleration in the consumer broadband market the main cloud on the horizon

 

  • BT
  • EE
Fixed Line, Media, Mobile, Telecoms, UK Media 9 August 2017
Sky progress against headwinds: FY 2017 results

Sky's full year results for fiscal 2017 are largely in line with company guidance on revenues, costs and synergies given on Investor Day last October, while the company expects further progress in fiscal 2018

Operating profits were badly hit by the massive increase of £629 million in annual payments to the Premier League, however, due to revenue and cost efficencies elsewhere, they fell by just £97 million, testifying to the overall strength of the Sky business

The results presentation revealed a clear sense of strategic direction, supported by much glossy and positive detail, yet revealed relatively little about the headwinds that Sky and other pay-TV operators now face, including the evident decline in Sky UK DTH subscriptions

  • Sky
Media, Telecoms, TV 8 August 2017
ITVS offsets weak NAR: ITV H1 2017 results

ITV H1 2017 results are in line with guidance contained in its Q1 trading update issued in May, while full year guidance has remained largely unaltered

The 8% decline in TV NAR, timing of programme deliveries and increased business investment were main reasons for the 8% drop in group EBITA despite growth elsewhere limiting the decline in group external revenues to 3%

ITV continues to deliver strong group profit margins of close to 30%; however, online poses several threats to TV NAR. The threats can only be increased by the quest for retransmission fees, whilst the spate of production acquisitions raises questions about risk management

  • ITV
Media, TV, UK Media 2 August 2017
Vodafone Q1 2017/18 results: Broadly flat, but promising signs

Vodafone Europe’s revenue growth bounced back from a weak previous quarter, but its top 4 markets combined were broadly flat in underlying terms. There are nonetheless promising underlying signs, including reduced churn, (slowly) improving subscriber growth and steady NPS

Vodafone has launched all-you-can-eat social/music/video bundles under the ‘Vodafone Pass’ moniker in several markets, which appear both popular and ARPU-enhancing, and being early to market with such an innovation is laudable

Next quarter Vodafone will be hit by the full force of the EU roaming regulation, but excluding this factor the performance is likely to be steady at least, helped in part by the UK business recovering from its recent weaknesses

  • Vodafone
Mobile, Telecoms, Vodafone 31 July 2017
Facebook video: escaping the News Feed

Facebook video consumption - and video ad revenue - is still concentrated on the mobile News Feed, limiting engagement growth and appeal to brand advertisers in the interim period before VR and AR go mainstream 

Features like a dedicated video hub and ad breaks have seen limited deployment, likely as a result of lukewarm user reception, but Instagram Stories holds promise 

To attract long-form viewing Facebook is cautiously investing in original TV content and sports rights, but is late to the game over audiences on connected TVs 

 

  • Facebook
Internet, Media, Technology, TV 28 July 2017
European subscription and pay-TV monitor

Across Europe, markets are becoming more competitive. Incumbent pay-TV paltforms (e.g. Sky or Canal+) face increasing threats from both internet-based services (e.g. Netflix and Amazon), and telecoms operators

Telecoms providers are proving the most potent challengers as they enter the premium football rights market to create attractive triple and quad play bundles – examples include BT, SFR and Telefónica. The latter is now the main pay-TV operator in Spain whereas France’s Canal+ has entered into a strategic alliance with Orange

Across the top five markets (UK, France, Germany, Spain, and Italy), Sky remains the leading operator with an estimated 21.5m video subscribers, twice as many as Netflix

 

  • Amazon
  • BT
  • Canal Plus
  • Liberty Global
  • Netflix
  • Orange
  • Prosieben
  • SFR
  • Sky
  • Sky Deutschland
  • Sky Italia
  • Telecom Italia
  • Telefonica
  • Virgin Media
  • Vivendi
  • Vodafone
Non-UK Media, Non-UK Telecoms, Media, Telecoms, TV 25 July 2017
Netflix passes 100 million: buy more steak, get less sizzle?

After a quarter coloured by big, returning series Netflix now has just shy of 104 million subscribers worldwide, with, for the first time, the majority living outside the US

Content expenditure continues to dazzle with $4.2 billion spent in the first half of 2017. Negative free cash flow looks set to hit $2.5 billion for the year, with large upfront payments for self-produced and commissioned content coupling with rights acquisition expenditure to create a library of programmes that necessitates continual subscriber growth

Current international growth is small considering the magnitude of the opportunity, revealing the difficulty of creating sizeable customer bases outside of the West, where competitors are cheaper, US programming less desirable and internet access comparatively limited

  • Amazon
  • Netflix
Non-UK Media, Media, TV 25 July 2017
Channel 4 set for the future: 2016 annual report

2016 has seen Channel 4 break new records in growing revenues and investing in content origination, whilst making further progress in delivering its remit and maintaining audience share for its main channel

However, the second half of 2016 and early months of this year promise a significantly tougher 2017 as the economic and TV advertising climate has worsened and the future is clouded with uncertainties

Channel 4 nonetheless starts from a relatively strong position financially and we expect it to be well capable of sustaining its remit under the leadership of its new CEO Alex Mahon, though much hinges on the outcome of the Government consultation on relocation 

  • Channel 4
Media, TV 24 July 2017
TalkTalk Group Q1 2017/18 results: Still growing the base

TalkTalk sustained positive broadband net adds in the June quarter, adding 20k to its base, largely driven by reduced churn, which was largely driven by re-contracting a large proportion of existing customers onto its new cheaper bundles

Unfortunately, this had a negative effect on revenue growth, with Group revenue growth (ex-carrier) dropping to -3.2%, as the new cheaper bundle adoption diluted ARPU, but the company remains confident that revenue growth will turn positive for the full financial year as the ARPU dilution effect annualises out

The company recently announced a price rise due in August of around 5-6% for customers not on its new cheaper bundles (around 38% of its total broadband base), which will help with the ARPU turnaround, but may make maintaining positive broadband net adds more challenging

  • TalkTalk
Fixed Line, Media, Mobile, Telecoms, TV, UK Media 21 July 2017
SME marketing: a local and global battleground

Accelerating print advertising declines in 2016 are placing pressure on local newspaper publishers to deliver faster online growth

However, digital growth is being supported yet compressed by Google and Facebook; we estimate SME expenditure on Google is roughly 2x the local press, and we expect SME spend with Facebook to match local newspaper advertising revenues in two to three years

Publishers need to grow consumer registrations and subscriptions, digital display and also digital marketing services, in partnerships with the tech giants – but first they have to convince consumers they have relevant use-cases that global platforms cannot replicate

  • Facebook
  • Google
  • Johnston Press
  • Local World
  • Trinity Mirror
Internet, Media 18 July 2017
European scripted content: rising demand and consolidation

The US scripted content boom is spilling over into Europe: Free-to-air TV drama ratings have proven resilient but as costs and audience expectations have risen budgets are under pressure, necessitating flexible co-financing arrangements with American broadcasters, and Netflix and Amazon. Pay channels have boosted output—with uneven results

Long-term IP control is a key factor behind independent production consolidation, led by broadcasters seeking a secure stream of content and diversification away from advertising

Notable developments include the new wave of Berlin-based, internationally-financed series, the rise of domestic French content and Sky Italia’s edgy originals, Telefónica’s giant leap into Spanish dramas, and the continuation of Britain as an export powerhouse

  • 21st Century Fox
  • Amazon
  • BBC
  • Canal Plus
  • Channel 4
  • ITV
  • NBC Universal
  • Netflix
  • Orange
  • Prosieben
  • RTL
  • SFR
  • Sky
  • Sky Deutschland
  • Sky Italia
  • Telefonica
  • TF1
  • Vivendi
Non-UK Media, Media, TV 11 July 2017
Retransmission fees back on the burner

The debate over the entitlement of free-to-air PSBs to retransmission fees from pay-TV platforms has simmered for the last few years, yet promises to boil over once the Digital Economy Act 2017 (DEA 2017) comes into force; as expected in late July/early August

The repeal of section 73 of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 (CDPA 1988) has removed a barrier to negotiations between the PSBs and the cable operator Virgin Media over retransmission fees, seen by some as the thin end of a wedge for obtaining such fees across all pay-TV platforms

However, pressing for retransmission fees could have the opposite effect of what the PSBs – in particular the commercial PSBs – wish for, threatening as it does to undermine the principles of universality and free access at the point of use, so long the bedrock of public service broadcasting in the UK

  • BBC
  • Channel 4
  • ITV
  • Sky
  • Virgin Media
Media, TV 6 July 2017
End-game for the merger of 21CF and Sky

Secretary of State (SoS) Karen Bradley has made an initial decision to refer 21CF’s bid for Sky to the Competition Markets Authority (CMA) for a detailed consideration of media plurality concerns, to be finalised in the near future

The issue at hand is the potential increase in the influence of the members of the Murdoch Family Trust (MFT) over the UK’s news agenda and political process. The SoS rejected the remedy for Sky News brokered by Ofcom

Ofcom’s non-negative decision on the fitness and propriety of 21CF to hold Sky’s broadcast licences cleared another hurdle in the event the merger is finally accepted

  • 21st Century Fox
  • News Corp
  • News UK
  • Ofcom
  • Sky
  • Sky Deutschland
  • Sky Italia
Media, Technology, Telecoms, TV 30 June 2017
Cometh the hour for the commercial PSBs

The first half of 2017 has seen the announced departure of three CEOs from the commercial PSBs within the space of less than two months: David Abraham of Channel 4 (14th March), Rob Woodward of STV (25th April) and lastly Adam Crozier of ITV (3rd May)

Responding to the challenges of digital switchover and the advertising recession of 2008/09, as well as their own specific company issues, one of the first tasks for all three CEOs has been to raise staff morale

The last seven to ten years may have been taxing at times. The next seven to ten promise to be no easier, and may yet be harder, as the successor CEOs chart their way through the continuing transformation of the UK digital landscape

  • Channel 4
  • ITV
Media, TV 28 June 2017

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