Publications

Format: Dec 2018
Sector(s) Datesort ascending
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
Vodafone/Liberty Global deal: Slim economics and regulatory risk

Vodafone’s acquisition of Liberty's assets in Germany and Central Europe is likely to face regulatory scrutiny at the EU – and possibly also German – level. We view Vodafone’s expectation of closure in mid-2019 with no remedies as unlikely

The economics of the deal for Vodafone are slim, highly reliant on extracting sizeable synergies, and vulnerable to operational risk and potential remedies for regulatory approval, particularly in Germany

While we see some synergy benefit from combining two cable assets in Germany, we are unconvinced of meaningful benefits from combined fixed/mobile offerings

  • Liberty Global
  • Vodafone
Fixed Line, Media, Mobile, Non UK Media 14 May 2018
Virgin Media Q1 2018 results: Good, but beware headlines

The highlight of Virgin Media’s Q1 results was the return to growth for its UK cable ARPU (+1.3%), although the improvement in trend should be interpreted with caution due to accounting changes

Headline group revenue growth of 5.2% was boosted by profit-neutral handset sales, with underlying growth of around 3.2% – still strong in the sector context

Virgin Media continues to do relatively well in the increasingly challenging UK broadband market, but with evidence of limited pricing power, sluggish roll-out and subscriber growth, revenue trends look set to slow

  • Liberty Global
  • Virgin Media
Fixed Line, Media, Mobile 14 May 2018
UK TV Production: Working for Netflix, Apple and the rest of the FAANGs

We interviewed the biggest hitters in the UK television production sector, asking them about the current issues affecting their industry, such as consolidation, Peak TV, and Nations and Regions quotas

Most pertinent, however, was the production sector’s relationship with the new buyers—Netflix, Amazon, Apple et al.—and how their approach to them differed for each one, as well as traditional broadcasters when pitching, negotiating deals or producing programmes

With views anonymised for candour, this report is an honest representation of an industry where quality and volume are both at an all-time high, despite the challenge of change brought about by these new players

  • Amazon
  • Apple
  • BBC
  • Channel 4
  • Facebook
  • Five
  • Google
  • ITV
  • Netflix
  • Sky
Telecoms, TV 11 May 2018
Wall St Shuffle: Spotify’s non-IPO

Spotify is now the world’s first publicly listed on-demand music streaming service. Its global footprint generated €4 billion in 2017 from over 70 million paying subscribers and 90 million ad-funded users across 65 countries

As it expands, the service is steadily but surely moving ever closer to profitability, with a 2019 operating profit a very real prospect

So far and for the near future, Spotify’s global pre-eminence versus competition from Apple, Amazon and Google proves remarkably resilient. Plans to build upon its differentiating features will become ever more decisive as the tech titans will continue to wield their resources and ecosystems against the comparatively undiversified company

  • Amazon
  • Apple
  • Google
  • Sony
  • Spotify
  • Vivendi
  • YouTube
Media, Music and Radio, Technology 10 May 2018
Video viewing forecasts to 2027: continued divergence by age group

Our latest forecasts predict traditional broadcasters will account for 72% of all video viewing in 2027, down from an estimated 82% in 2017, reflecting the continuing adoption of online video services across all UK age groups

Additional viewing of online short-form content such as YouTube will keep pushing overall volumes higher, with SVOD services serving more as a substitution for linear TV

The extent will be greater among younger age groups, for whom the shift has already been significant. We predict that in 10 years just 42% of 16-34s’ total viewing will be to conventional broadcasters versus 91% for the over-55s

  • Amazon
  • BBC
  • Channel 4
  • Google
  • ITV
  • Netflix
  • Sky
  • YouTube
Media, TV, UK Media 9 May 2018
Covert growth in UK mobile

The UK mobile market is growing strongly – we estimate revenues by 5% and EBITDA by 8% in 2017 – excluding one-off regulatory drags and the loss of non-profit-generating handset revenue

Regulatory price cuts end in mid-2018, and the handset effect will disappear from all reported figures from April 2018, leaving scope for very positive headline growth next year – considerably better than its European comparators and the sluggish UK fixed market

The outlook for the UK mobile industry is the best it has been in a decade, with significant growth in data demand, price increases, some supply constraints, rational competition, and major regulatory drags rapidly fading

  • EE
  • France Telecom
  • Hutchison 3G
  • Iliad
  • O2
  • Sky
  • T-Mobile
  • Telecom Italia
  • Telefonica
  • Virgin Media
  • Vodafone
Fixed Line, Media, Mobile, Telecoms, UK Media 8 May 2018
Trinity Mirror and Northern & Shell raise regulatory hackles

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) halted the merger of the publishing assets of Trinity Mirror and Northern & Shell, and is inquiring into the merger’s likely impact on competition in the national newspaper market

The CMA will take into account efficiencies of £20 million in newsrooms, printing and advertising sales, which if realised could help sustain national news provision in a failing print market transitioning to digital services

Secretary of State (SoS) Matt Hancock has issued a Public Interest Intervention Notice (PIIN) citing newspaper public interest (PI) grounds, on concerns the TM/N&S merger may be contrary to the public interest

  • Trinity Mirror
Media, UK Media 3 May 2018
European privacy: New Wave in the Old World

For much of the online media industry, GDPR compliance has stalled at basic data audits and box ticking, as firms wait for the rest of the privacy regime to emerge

But weighing technicalities of legitimate interest and consent misses the point: transparent consumer value will be the only sustainable basis for processing personal data

The scrutiny of Google and Facebook privacy practices involves an added antitrust dimension, potentially leading to processing limits as remedies

  • Amazon
  • Facebook
  • Google
  • TalkTalk
Media, Technology 3 May 2018
Blockchain: Reinventing the wheel

Despite the hype, systems based on the technology underlying bitcoin are a poor match for most use-cases

The term 'blockchain' is nowadays applied to technologies with shared aims and ideals rather than technological unity; few if any of these aims require true blockchain, any many are double-edged swords

The promises of blockchain are seductive in the context of programmatic online advertising, but are over-sold

Media, Technology, Telecoms 2 May 2018
Grand new ideas for the content industry: Lessons from GDC 2018

Last month’s Game Developer’s Conference in San Francisco was a triumphant showcase for crossover technologies and ideas designed to attract and engage new customers; ideas coming soon to all parts of the digital entertainment industry

Google and Facebook launched new “Instant App” technologies for game developers on their platforms, which will eventually have a significant impact on mobile app curation and discovery for not just games but the broader entertainment sector

Universal Pictures showed how media and entertainment companies should be working with indie developers to drive franchise development, utilise creative IP, and bring new ideas to market quicker

Internet, Media, Technology 30 April 2018
Sky Q3 2017/18 results: ever more attractive

Sky posted yet another set of solid results, with revenues up 5% and operating profits up 10%, despite weakening operating metrics in Germany & Austria

Deals with Netflix and Spotify will enhance the customer experience, signalling Sky's confidence in its platform, perhaps a sign of further deals to come

A successful outcome from February’s Premier League auction sealed the prospect of a takeover battle for Sky, with Comcast launching its formal bid this week

  • 21st Century Fox
  • Amazon
  • ITV
  • Netflix
  • Sky
  • Walt Disney
Media, Telecoms, TV 27 April 2018
Retailing in the material world

Ecommerce has grown to 17.5% of retail spend, and accounts for almost all growth in spend. Physical retailers are beginning to feel the effects, with chains reporting falling profits and even bringing in administrators

The UK picture is muddied by a general lack of economic recovery, and irrelevant comparisons with the US. Finished goods stores, however, are clearly under extreme pressure

We are moving into a retail paradigm of online and offline elements being freely matched. To survive this transition, brick and mortar retailers have to become differentiated experiences and close the data gap with e-retailers

Internet, Media, Technology 26 April 2018
Brexit Update: Domestic Issues

Despite apparent instability of the political climate in Westminster, the direction of travel is predictable as both main parties share the aim of Brexit

The big fight in Parliament is over the future trade policy of the UK. Officially, the UK wants to agree a Free Trade Area (FTA) with the EU, while the Labour Party and Tory rebels hope a Customs Union (CU) prevails, binding the UK to the EU’s trade policy

The Supreme Court is about to hear the UK Government’s challenge to legislation passed by the devolved nations of Scotland and Wales, which claim their consent is required for policies on agriculture, fisheries and the environment

Brexit, Media, Telecoms, TV 25 April 2018

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