Publications

Format: Dec 2017
Leave blank for all. Otherwise, the first selected term will be the default instead of "Any".
Leave blank for all. Otherwise, the first selected term will be the default instead of "Any".
Sector(s) Datesort descending
Supply of news in the UK

Since Communications Act 2003, the number of national news outlets supplied on broadcast and in print has been stable. Adoption of multi-channel TV, supported by Freeview, has augmented the number of homes accessing on a free-to-air basis five "all news" channels (BBC News, BBC Parliament, Sky News, CNN, Russia Today), with many more all news channels served on pay-TV platforms

Original news production has been transformed by digital tools and Twitter occupies the centre of the journalism ecosystem. Jobs devoted to news production are in recovery, although mask a decline in newspapers to the benefit of online mainly

Expansion of fixed-line broadband and, more recently, consumer adoption of mobile broadband and connected devices, have made the internet a platform for the supply of and consumption of all news services. Broadcasters serve eponymous text-based websites, all newspapers serve websites, and native news outlets have entered the market due to low barriers to entry. Prominent native brands in the political genre include Buzzfeed, HuffPost and Politico

Internet, Media, UK Media 10 October 2017
News and Facebook

Even though Facebook is not a producer of news, 6.5 million UK internet users claim to mainly source their news from the platform. Posts and shares by friends in the user's network, in the context of Facebook's algorithm, determine the order of stories in the personalised News Feed, removing the control of the news agenda that publishers have for their websites

Premium publishers operating a paywall (The Times, The Financial Times) have a lower key approach to Facebook than publishers generating advertising revenue from referral traffic to their websites or from on-platform consumption of Instant Articles. The latter will seek to stimulate social media engagement, optimising stories through attention-grabbing headlines, and installing Facebook’s share and like buttons on their websites

Case studies of the news stories that were prominent on Facebook (measured by likes, comments and shares) in the periods leading up to the Brexit Referendum and General Election 2017 votes respectively demonstrate that newspaper brands (the Express for Brexit, and The Guardian for the General Election) achieved the highest reach on Facebook during these periods, despite being ranked below other news brands (BBC in particular) in terms of traffic to their websites

  • 21st Century Fox
  • BBC
  • Channel 4
  • DMGT
  • Facebook
  • Five
  • Google
  • Guardian Media Group
  • Independent Print Ltd
  • Johnston Press
  • New York Times
  • News Corp
  • News UK
  • Sky
  • Telegraph Media Group
  • Trinity Mirror
  • Twitter
  • Vice Media
  • YouTube
21CF Sky specific emails, Media, Public Policy, Technology, TV, UK Media 10 October 2017
Sky Q1 2017/18 results: Solid quarter, but challenges remain

Sky made a strong start to fiscal 2018, with improved customer net adds across each of its markets versus the previous quarter, as well as group revenue growth at 5%

Operating profits switched back to growth, after the negative Premier League effect annualised out, with it now settled at the full cost of £1.4 billion per year. EBITDA growth hit 11%, or 15% excluding the effect of UK mobile and the Spanish OTT launch

Against the backdrop of continued uncertainty around the UK advertising market, attention has turned to the upcoming Premier League auction, though we think it unlikely that digital players will cause disruption

  • Sky
Media, TV, UK Media 16 October 2017
21CF/Sky transaction heads to the CMA

21CF’s bid for 100% ownership of Sky has been referred for a Phase 2 investigation to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which will decide by 6 March 2018

Third parties Avaaz and Ed Miliband MP complain of the influence of the Murdoch Family Trust (MFT) and family members over the UK’s news agenda and political process 

A remedy could insulate Sky News from this influence. The offer of a Sky News Editorial Board at Phase 1 was refused. Third parties will ensure the debate in Phase 2 is very lively

  • 21st Century Fox
  • Ofcom
  • Sky
21CF Sky specific emails, Media, TV 19 October 2017
Google's golden age of search

Google has beaten Facebook in mobile revenue growth, and competes successfully in retail search with Amazon

Intelligent user interfaces based on machine learning have become a core competitive strength, with social and messaging the main remaining weak points

Rising political pressure due to Google’s growing scale and influence is now a bigger concern than commercial risk, as the threat of regulatory intervention limits strategic options in partnerships, M&A and integration

  • Amazon
  • Apple
  • Facebook
  • Google
Media, Technology 19 October 2017
Premier League: winner's curse

The Premier league (PL) will be hoping for another huge increase in rights payments in the upcoming auction for the three seasons starting 2019/20

Aggressive competition between BT Sport and Sky has led to hyperinflation of most premium sports rights. Sport now accounts for two thirds of multichannel content spend, but only 8% of its viewing

BT’s current financial position makes it difficult to justify expansion or further hyperinflation of its PL rights portfolio, but it cannot withdraw completely

  • BT
  • Sky
Media, TV, UK Media 25 October 2017
PSB: Working with the frenemy

Public service broadcasting (PSB) and the entire unique broadcasting ecosystem face huge challenges from global tech giants with deep pockets, data insights and scant regard for PSB prominence

All three pillars of the PSB model are threatened: content supply, distribution and advertising. The further threat of digital terrestrial TV (DTT) spectrum being reduced or turned off in c.2030 is real and PSBs must have a migration path in place

PSBs can counter some challenges through increased investment in content relevant to the UK consumer. But, recognising the aligned interests with pay-TV platforms of Sky and Virgin Media, collaboration between the parties is integral to the long-term future of PSB

  • BBC
  • Channel 4
  • ITV
  • Sky
  • Virgin Media
Media, TV 10 November 2017
BT Q2 2017/18 results: Unresolved issues

BT Group revenue growth dipped to -1.5% from an instance of rare modest positive growth in the previous quarter, albeit mostly due to a predicted price timing effect in Consumer and revenue growth predictably going from bad to worse in Global Services

The bright spots were continued strong 4% revenue growth at EE, with an acceleration in mobile-related revenue also helping other divisions, and strong growth of 5% in external revenues at Openreach driven by accelerating fibre adoption by competitor customers

A number of very important regulatory/policy/legal issues remain unresolved, including 5G spectrum auction rules, leased line pricing, FTTC pricing and FTTP roll-out rules, but without a number of these going BT’s way the outlook remains tough for at least the next 18 months

  • BT
  • EE
Fixed Line, Media, Mobile, Telecoms, TV, UK Media 10 November 2017
Micropayments and Microsubscriptions: Beyond advertising

Digital advertising in the UK has been a phenomenal success story, but a concentrated one, such that many online media companies have not found a sustainable model

User payments are growing, but are currently focused on large, expensive bundles: Spotify, Netflix, the New York Times. This implements a hard division between free and paid and limits the potential audience

Micropayments and microsubscriptions are alternative models which content owners in certain media can use to address more types of demand. Multiple obstacles remain but for many companies the need to experiment has become critical

  • Amazon
Internet, Media, Mobile, Technology, TV 14 November 2017
Altice in crisis as formulaic model flounders in France

The telecoms group has suffered a dramatic stock market correction following its Q3 results, as investors woke up to the continuous decline of its main unit, France’s SFR – leading its CEO to resign. Closure of a tax loophole will further erode SFR’s revenues by up to 4% in 2018

Despite being France’s largest fibre network, SFR’s broadband market share dropped 4ppts over three years. Notwithstanding grandstands on ‘convergence’ and expensive rights acquisitions, it is losing pay-TV subscribers – it looks unlikely to challenge Vivendi’s Canal+ in next year’s Ligue 1 auction

The mobile performance is notably better with the subscriber count stabilised and ARPU rising. Besides sustaining network deployments, to turn around SFR Altice needs to abandon short term fixes, invest in its workforce and customer service, and differentiate through valuable innovation – in other words the opposite of the model followed so far 

Non-UK Media, Non-UK Telecoms, Media, Telecoms 16 November 2017
Virgin Media Q3 2017 results: Building acceleration

Virgin Media’s subscriber figures were flat on the prior year quarter, a robust performance in a slowing and increasingly competitive market, with ARPU growth still weak but at least not worsening

Project Lightning had another successful quarter, accelerating strongly and passing an additional 147k premises, which bodes well for subscriber acceleration into 2018

A recently implemented price increase should boost ARPU growth next quarter, on the basis that it successfully limits the retention discounting that characterised last year’s price increase, but such a boost will be limited by wider market pricing pressures

  • Liberty Global
  • Virgin Media
Fixed Line, Media, Telecoms 20 November 2017
TalkTalk Group Q2 2017/18 results: Growth at a cost

TalkTalk continued to maintain positive broadband net adds in Q2 despite increased churn, and its on-net revenue growth turned positive as well, helped by the turnaround in subscriber growth trends and an overlapping price increase implemented during the quarter

The return to growth is taking its toll in marketing costs however, and the company is now guiding to a full year ‘headline’ EBITDA at the lower end of its previous given range, and this is after redefining ‘headline’ to exclude losses from its winding-down mobile business

Even this looks challenging given the cost trends in the first half of the year. The company’s new strategy of subscriber growth and focusing on the basics is probably the right one, but it is proving tough to implement in a slowing and increasingly competitive market

 

  • TalkTalk
Media, Mobile, Telecoms, UK Media 23 November 2017
UFC - pay-per-view heavyweight, subscription contender

The recent highly-publicised boxing match between UFC superstar Conor McGregor and boxing great Floyd Mayweather has not only broken UK records, but signified the rising status of the UFC into the mainstream of sports

The UFC has grown hugely in recent years. Its competition structure, appeal to younger audiences, and savvy marketing make it attractive to pay-TV broadcasters and an enticing proposition for Millennial and Gen-Z viewers 

However, with this heightened status, it may be beginning to face the same pitfalls as boxing and other sports, including a rapidly rising median viewing age and the pull of pay-per-view blockbuster events

  • BT
  • UKTV
Media, TV 24 November 2017
TV set viewing trends: flat shares of a smaller pie

BARB data indicates that the amount of average daily TV set viewing to linear TV channels is continuing to fall: the pie is shrinking. Just under 20% of TV set usage so far in 2017 is to non-linear activity, and viewing to SVOD services and YouTube is likely to account for most of this growth in 'unmatched' viewing

The pie is shrinking faster amongst younger audiences: just under one third of TV set usage is 'unmatched' now for 16-34s. However 35+ unmatched use is growing at a faster rate than 16-34 unmatched use in 2017

Within this smaller pie, the PSB channels continue to hold share of viewing against pay channels. Within the PSBs, ITV and the ITV digital channel family have gained most share so far this year, although BBC1 is having a strong autumn in spite of the loss of Great British Bake Off to C4

  • BBC
  • Channel 4
  • Five
  • ITV
  • Netflix
  • Sky
  • UKTV
  • Virgin Media
  • YouTube
Media, TV 27 November 2017
Channel 5: three years on from Viacom's acquisition

Viacom’s 2014 acquisition of Channel 5 from Richard Desmond’s Northern & Shell occurred while the maelstrom encircling linear television viewing—sparked by the allure of SVODs and other digital distractions—was well underway

Nevertheless, with increased content spend, development of new titles and clarity as to its targeted audience, the broadcaster has increased its channel (and group) share amongst 16-34s and ABC1s, and has directed further benefits back to its owner's existing entertainment suite

Outside of the post-lunch and 8-10pm slots, however, work needs to be done: Channel 5’s BVOD proposition and social media offering leaves much to be desired, while the reliance on two major titles, Big Brother and Neighbours will be unsustainable in a post-linear world  

  • Channel 4
  • Five
  • Viacom
Media, TV 1 December 2017
Iliad launching in Italy: Breaking the curse of the fourth operator?

Against the consolidation trend in the European market, France’s Iliad is to launch a fourth mobile network in Italy in the next few weeks, thanks to a roaming and frequency access agreement with Windtre — this deal allowed Wind and Tre to gain regulatory clearance for their merger

The model followed by Iliad’s Free Mobile in France since 2012 cannot be reproduced in Italy, where prices are already low and where it has no established brand reputation. Iliad’s owner Xavier Niel’s experience in oligopolistic Switzerland is of little relevance, and Germany’s Drillisch use of M&A to fill its capacity is not an option in Italy

Nevertheless Iliad has opportunities to seize in Italy where subscriber churn is the highest in Europe, customer service variable, and trust in telecoms brands very low. A credible consumer-friendly value offer could become a real alternative to the three incumbents, although distribution will still be a challenge

  • Iliad
Mobile, Telecoms 4 December 2017
Vodafone Q2 2017/18 results: Revenue flat-ish, profits surge

Vodafone Europe’s revenue growth was very similar to the previous quarter at just under 1%, but this was impressive given the considerable drag of roaming cuts, with ‘more-for-more’ tariffs coupled with data volume growth driving underlying improvement

Flat-ish revenue was enough to send EBITDA surging 13%, or around 9% excluding some one-off distortions, driven by good cost control and falling handset costs, with this trend previously disguised by profitability issues in the UK

Looking forward, the question is whether Vodafone is doing enough to cope with future competitive threats. Competitive indicators (churn, NPS) have not improved; its new initiatives are quite mixed; and competitive intensity is likely to increase across a number of markets

  • Vodafone
Mobile, Telecoms 5 December 2017
Children's changing video habits and implications for the content market

Children’s media use and attitudes have dramatically changed over the last few years, stemming from the rapid take-up of smartphones and tablets

Traditional TV continues to decline at the expense of newer video services such as YouTube, Netflix and Amazon, with 43% of children aged 8-15 preferring YouTube videos over TV programmes

These online services offer content producers wider opportunities, but questions remain around the lack of regulation online, and the recent scandal around children’s safety on YouTube has heightened these concerns

  • Amazon
  • BBC
  • Google
  • Netflix
  • Sky
  • Virgin Media
  • Walt Disney
  • YouTube
Media, TV, UK Media 8 December 2017
UK mobile market Q3 2017: Returns to scale

Mobile service revenue growth dipped this quarter but this was likely entirely due to the predictable (and predicted) impact of the abolition of EU roaming surcharges.  On an underlying basis, growth improved

BT/EE extended its lead in both service revenue and contract subscriber growth terms. EE’s substantial investments in network quality and customer service have driven returns to scale, and its multi-brand approach is working well

Contrasting with the returns to scale seen at EE, TalkTalk’s MVNO has suffered the reverse of this, unable to break-even despite peaking at just shy of 1 million customers, and deciding to retreat to an agency model.  Sky Mobile is performing respectably well in context, but may be headed for scale issues itself

  • BT
  • EE
  • Hutchison 3G
  • O2
  • Sky
  • TalkTalk
  • Vodafone
Mobile, Telecoms, Vodafone 8 December 2017
UK broadband, telephony and pay TV trends Q3 2017: The ARPU challenge

UK residential communications market revenue growth dipped to 2.1% in Q3. While volume growth continued to decline, the main driver was weakening ARPU growth, which was partly caused by price rise timing effects but there was also an underlying contribution

Longer term, slowing market volume growth has contributed to the market revenue growth drop over the last year, but slowing ARPU growth is also playing its part, and maintaining ARPU growth is becoming a major challenge for the operators given the discounting required to win and retain customers

Looking forward, price rise timings will continue to cause short-term revenue growth fluctuations, but the main long-term factor will be the trajectory of subscriber ARPU, and whether any growth in this can be sustained

  • BT
  • Sky
  • TalkTalk
  • Virgin Media
Fixed Line, Media, Telecoms, UK Media 11 December 2017

Pages