Publications

Format: Nov 2017
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Sector(s) Datesort ascending
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
Steady progress: ITV H1 2016 results

ITV H1 2016 revenues and EBITA showed double-digit growth year on year, though the greater share came from ITV Studios acquisitions of independent producers and H1 2016 was sequentially down on H2 2015, with ITV Studios accounting for most of the decrease

ITV Family NAR was flat year on year. Though Brexit has led to growing fears of a sharp downturn, ITV appears relatively well placed to handle such an outcome: ITV Main channel 7% uptick in H1 viewing share; £25 million targeted cost efficiencies in 2017; healthy balance sheet

ITV Studios revenues have doubled in scale since 2011 following 15 acquisitions of independent production companies; yet just how well the underlying business is performing organically is hard to assess due to the bumpiness of short term trends

  • ITV
Media, TV, UK Media 2 August 2016
Shifts in the games industry - mobile, consoles and VR

Gaming giant Tencent acquiring Supercell for $8.6bn when rivals are grappling with costs shows the importance of strategic discipline and scale for mobile games success

The games lineup on Sony’s PlayStation4 is pulling ahead of that on rival Microsoft’s Xbox One, testament to a growing lead in console sales and strong relationships with Asian studios

Transitioning to a VR dominated future, Sony is preparing to roll out VR globally in the autumn, while Microsoft pins hopes on a new VR-ready Xbox set to arrive next year

  • Microsoft
  • Sony
Internet, Media, Mobile, Non UK Media, Technology 28 July 2016
Jitters in post-Brexit UK

Political uncertainty has lifted since the UK has a new Government, committed to making a success of Brexit, which could require at least five years to complete

Economic uncertainty remains elevated and is negatively impacting business and consumer confidence, leading to sharply downgraded forecasts for 2016 and especially 2017

To gain control of immigration from the EU, the UK will lose market access for goods and services, although some offset could be achieved in the medium-term by bilateral free trade deals

Media, Technology, Telecoms 27 July 2016
Under pressure: TalkTalk Group Q1 2016/17 results

TalkTalk reported net losses in broadband (-9k), with likely negative pressure on line rental, and weakness also in TV (-23k) although fibre (+36k) and mobile (+48k) net adds remained strong. Ahead of insight from competitor performances, the figures suggest a challenging quarter for the operator

Group revenue growth improved 1.3ppts to -0.4% owing to particularly strong carrier revenues, an inconsistent revenue stream. This was in spite of slowing consumer revenue growth (-1.2ppts to -2.5%) partly owing to cyber-attack related impacts

The concerted strategic shift away from being a price discounter to a fuller featured value for money provider may well encounter similarly challenging quarters in a highly competitive market where rivals have larger marketing budgets and offer deep discounts

  • TalkTalk
Fixed Line, Telecoms 26 July 2016
Vodafone Q1 2016/17 results: Price-led growth

Vodafone Europe’s mobile service revenue growth continued to recover, despite regulatory and calendric headwinds, and continued customer service issues in its UK business

The improvement was driven by fairly aggressive price increases, most acutely in Spain, which drove fairly dramatic ARPU growth improvements but also subscriber growth slowdowns

While using network improvements to drive pricing premia is a sound strategy, the timing may be a little premature, and any significant macroeconomic Brexit impact may force Vodafone to reverse course

  • Vodafone
Mobile, Telecoms 26 July 2016
Mid-form video: Beyond the long and the short of it

Video content is crudely defined. If something is not very short (<10 minutes) then it tends to be considered long-form. But there is a middle ground - one which displays a distinctive combination of characteristics in terms of production, broadcasting and viewing

Mid-form video (between 10 and 20 minutes) has the ability to carry the narrative arcs normally associated with long-form programming, whilst also retaining the snackable and shareable attributes of short-form

The footprint of mid-form is, so far, small. However, it is growing, as its unique qualities, such as excellent ad completion, become more readily recognised

  • 21st Century Fox
  • BBC
  • Channel 4
  • Sky
  • Turner
  • Vice Media
  • YouTube
Media 22 July 2016
Radio’s relevance to younger adults in danger

Both the commercial and BBC radio sectors generally seem to be in good shape, with radio listening also appearing robust. However, this masks a steep decline among younger adults that shows no sign of slowing down

With radio content available at the swipe of a finger, the linear schedule becomes less relevant, and the challenge broadcasters face is to create online hooks for the broadcast output

News Corp’s acquisition of TalkSPORT will open up new business opportunities as well as consumer engagement across The Sun and TalkSPORT and may prove an important milestone for the Sun brand

  • BBC
  • News Corp
Media, Music and Radio, UK Media 21 July 2016
European mobile in Q1 2016: Resilience of the dumb pipe

European service revenue growth improved in aggregate but with traction noticeably gradual and fragile, and growth remains negative. The future of this fragile recovery is highly uncertain in the wake of a vote to take the UK out of the EU. Most economists have budgeted a slowdown in UK GDP growth, revising 2017 expectations from around 2% to near zero or below. The IMF expect 1.3% growth in 2017 (-1ppt revision) based on “limited” Brexit impact with implied potential for further downward revisions, and it has made more modest cuts to forecasts for other European markets

Mobile service revenues are susceptible to the slowdown but we believe there to be sources of resilience in the revenue stream that would temper the impact including much reduced prepay share of the base, heavily eroded ARPU differential of contract users over prepay and contract tariff value for money, bundling trends, high smartphone penetration (>64%) and data attachment rates (>75%), and 4G coverage and penetration

Following a failed acquisition of O2 in the UK, H3G have turned focus to the proposed JV merger with Wind in Italy where offered remedies are rumoured to have been found acceptable although official confirmation (pending) is only due by 8 September. These include furnishing Iliad as a replacement fourth market entrant with uncertain consequences for the Italian market

  • EE
  • Hutchison 3G
  • Telecom Italia
  • Telefonica
  • Vodafone
Mobile, Telecoms 21 July 2016
Mobile Google: beyond the smartphone

Google’s recent product updates and developer conference announcements aim for as many users on as many platforms and devices as possible – a return to strategic form

The company has a dual approach: using Android as a mobile trend-setter while also devising new ways for users and developers on other platforms to use Google services

The reach provided by these initiatives will help Google’s machine learning algorithms to better understand and predict user intent – the cornerstone of the company’s ad business

  • Amazon
  • Apple
  • Facebook
  • Google
Internet, Media, Mobile, Technology, UK Media 18 July 2016
iPhone under pressure

Adverse market trends are finally touching the iPhone, the mainstay of Apple’s business, which looks healthy in the short term but is facing substantial threats further out

In response, Apple has changed its iPhone pricing, is warming up to developers and seeks to address long-standing problems with its first-party service offerings

While some of the holes in Apple’s service suite are now being patched, the company is still playing catch-up to rivals Google and Amazon in areas like smart assistants, maps and the connected home

  • Apple
Internet, Media, Mobile, Technology 15 July 2016
Pokémon Go and the resurrection of Nintendo

The success of Pokémon Go on iOS and Android has met long-held expectations for Nintendo’s potential on mobile

While buoyed by the strength of Nintendo’s intellectual property, the game’s reception also demonstrates how compelling augmented reality can be for user engagement

Would be imitators will quickly follow, but success is likely to be elusive without a close partnership with one of the leading online platforms

  • Google
Internet, Media, Technology, Telecoms 15 July 2016
Opportunities in online commissions

Online growth has opened up a new window of opportunity for production companies in short and mid form “online-first” content, with the last few years seeing a steady increase in the number of production companies entering this space 

So far, persistently low broadcaster online-first budgets and poor financial returns from video distributed online has held back growth of mid and short form video. Instead, the main growth in recent times has come from “brand” commissions 

Yet whatever the type of commission and its financial value, short and mid form commissions are eagerly sought after, whether as a potentially lucrative income stream, especially in the case of branded content, or as a calling card for long-form commissions from broadcasters and OTT players such as Netflix and Amazon

  • BBC
  • Channel 4
Media, TV, UK Media 13 July 2016
Retransmission fees: looking less likely

The DCMS has published the government’s response to its consultation on the balance of payments between television platforms and public service broadcasters, the so-called issue of retransmission fees

One sure outcome is that Section 73 of the Copyright, Designs and Patent Act (CPDA) 1988, which has hitherto protected cable operators (i.e. Virgin Media) from having to pay retransmission fees, is outmoded and will go

But, we now have a disconnect. The government has stated unequivocally that it expects the continuation of no net carriage payments between the licensed PSBs and the platform operators and may consider legislative changes to ensure this. And yet ITV sees the government response as a welcome first step towards their introduction

  • Channel 4
  • Five
  • ITV
  • Ofcom
  • Sky
  • Virgin Media
Media, TV 11 July 2016
Consumer Magazines: Print still key; radical innovation emerging

UK consumer magazine print circulation fell -9% in 2015 while total display advertising fell -7% as magazines continue to outperform other press categories.

However, the overall picture is still one of falling consumer and advertiser demand and the fierce competition for user attention and advertising spend online is reflected in consumer magazine digital display advertising growth of just 12%: about half of the total online display growth rate in 2015.

At the same time publishers are starting to embrace radical innovation using their brands to produce multiple revenue streams ranging from e-commerce to events, as we explore in our four publisher case studies included in this report.

Media 5 July 2016
UK mobile market Q1 2016: Future uncertain

UK mobile service revenue growth marginally improved in Q1, to 0.5% from 0.3% in the previous quarter, with the market now having been stuck at a modest but positive growth level for two full years. The improvement was driven by contract ARPU growth improvements, across all of the operators, partially mitigated by a drop in contract subscriber volume growth, perhaps influenced by a weak market for new handsets

Looking forward, the competitive outlook is very uncertain; while EE is looking to increase its network lead, whether it wishes to use this to boost share or pricing is unclear, O2’s future owners may have different strategic priorities to the status quo, H3G will likely take innovative approaches, which are tautologically hard to predict, and Vodafone UK remains Vodafone’s only large European market without a scale position in consumer broadband, a situation it is likely to want to rectify in due course

While before the Brexit referendum, we would have concluded that the outlook for market-wide revenue growth was reasonably positive in spite of this, with ever-strong data volume growth contrasting with constrained spectrum supply, the extra economic uncertainty due to the referendum result puts this at least partly in doubt. The mobile market is likely to be relatively insensitive to macroeconomic conditions given its increasingly essential nature, but there is some sensitivity, particularly if population growth slows or reverses. Our base case assumption is a dip in growth of 1-2ppts in 2017 as a consequence of Brexit

  • EE
  • Hutchison 3G
  • O2
  • Vodafone
Telecoms 5 July 2016

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