Publications

Format: Feb 2018
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BT Q4 2015-16 results: Sound investment-driven growth strategy

BT Group’s revenue growth slipped back to 1.3% in Q4, but this reflected the reversal of various one-off boosts in the previous quarter, with underlying trends still solid across the group, with Consumer and Openreach still the standout performers

We do not think that BT’s approach of keeping the BT and EE consumer brands separate will maximize the cross-selling opportunity, but we consider this opportunity to be modest at best in any case, and therefore not worth the risk of a disruptive integration

On both fixed and mobile, BT is using cost savings to invest in faster speeds, better coverage and improved service to drive competitive advantage and price premia, a very sound strategy in our view

  • BT
  • EE
Fixed Line, Telecoms 13 May 2016
BT Q4 2016/17 results: Mobile strength, pressure elsewhere

BT had a reasonable quarter in its consumer broadband business given market pressures, and a very strong one at EE with continued growth acceleration. It had a good quarter for fibre adoption as well, helping its wholesale divisions stabilise their revenue, but business/IT was weak as expected

Regulatory pressure remains intense despite the (welcome) Openreach agreement, with price cap regulation proposed or due on a range of products, and a regulatory approach which is far from investment-orientated

Pressures in the business/IT market are likely to continue, and pressures in the consumer broadband market are likely to intensify, justifying BT’s current cautious approach to guidance and dividends

  • BT
  • Liberty Global
  • Ofcom
  • Sky
  • TalkTalk
  • Vice Media
Fixed Line, Internet, Media, Mobile, Technology, Telecoms, UK Media 9 June 2017
BT Q4 and full year 2011/12 results: workmanlike

Continuing strong cost control enabled BT to meet its annual guidance for the third year running Underlying cash flow growth continues to be compromised by the impact of LLU and IP on BT Wholesale, with fibre deployment providing only limited defence BT is proving adept at survival in a hostile environment, but further gains will continue to be modest and hard won

  • BT
Fixed Line, Telecoms 14 May 2012
BT Retail 40 Mbit/s broadband: priced to sell

BT Retail has announced its intention to launch residential
40 Mbit/s broadband at similar price points to its existing two higher tier
broadband offers. While this looks unlikely on its own to create significant
additional shareholder value, it could eventually help BT retain existing value

The move is unlikely to seriously inconvenience other
players for the next year or so, but could encourage TTG and Sky to sign
wholesale deals with BT for higher speed broadband and, ultimately, make it
more likely that a demerged TTG is acquired by another player

BT Retail’s strategy is likely to accelerate the
implementation of state-backed rural NGA in the UK since end user demand
outside commercially viable areas will be greater than would otherwise have
been the case

  • TalkTalk
  • Sky
  • BT
Fixed Line, Telecoms 22 January 2010
BT Retail residential telephony price changes: rebalancing act

BT Retail is putting through another round of residential price changes, trading further aggressive cuts in call plans in return for 12 month contracts, increases in line rental and some volume-related call charges

The £1 line rental increase is in line with our expectations and could trigger a round of increases by other players following Ofcom’s forthcoming statement on Openreach’s wholesale price ceilings

The price changes should help BT Retail to both defend its residential customer base and conserve ARPU. However, some further loss of residential market share looks inevitable

  • BT
Telecoms, Fixed Line 11 February 2009
BT Retail telephony pricing: ringing the changes

BT Retail’s fixed-line telephony packages are now amongst the most attractive in the market following a third price change in two years. Attractive headline prices have been balanced by less obvious price rises elsewhere

  • BT
Telecoms, Fixed Line 11 March 2008
BT Rights Issue Pointers

This is the first of a series of notes on the outlook for the core fixed-line businesses of BT and the other European incumbent telcos. In order to prepare investors for the coming rights issue we briefly consider the issues that face BT's core operations. The follow-on note will provide a more in-depth analysis.

Our main points are as follows:

  • BT
Telecoms 21 June 2001
BT Sport - measuring success

Although it is early days, BARB audience data already supply useful insights into the potential impact of BT Sport on the acquisition and retention of BT broadband customers and take-up of BT Infinity

Now entering its third month the very heavily publicised BT Sport has made a relatively good start in Sky households compared with its predecessors Setanta and ESPN, but less of a difference in DTT households, where getting BT Sport on BT TV is not straightforward

However, BT is still very much the junior player in a duopolistic mature market for premium sport, which we do not expect to grow significantly even if the premium sport is being given away

  • Sky
  • BT
Fixed Line, Telecoms, TV, Media 3 October 2013
BT Sport - not a game changer

BT has thrown down the gauntlet to Sky, as it has launched a premium sports offering that will be free to all BT broadband customers upon its launch on 1 August 2013 The product being ‘free’ makes it a potentially effective defence of BT’s broadband base, with the possibility for win-back as well, but this also raises the direct operating losses that have to be set against these benefits The main damage to Sky comes from elevated rights costs, with there being a risk of further inflation in three years as another major round of renewals comes up

  • BT
Fixed Line, Telecoms, TV, Media 14 May 2013
BT Sport - the Champions?

BT will soon for the first time charge the majority of viewers for their own channels with the launch of the BT Sport Pack. The Pack includes BT Sport Europe, home to UEFA’s European football tournaments from this August, the rights to which BT are paying £299 million a year

Viewing figures for the big European tournaments are not as high as one might expect given their prominence. Consumer demand for the new channel will also be highly dependent on the success of British teams, notably lacking in recent seasons

We therefore do not expect a dramatic impact on BT Sport (or BT broadband) subscribers, and the widening losses will put pressure on BT’s margin squeeze test regulation, although they are easily absorbable at BT Group level

  • BT
  • ITV
  • Sky
Media, Telecoms, TV, UK Media 30 June 2015
BT Sport Euro football winner – what a price!

BT has doubled the price of the live ECL/EEL rights to £900m in order to outbid Sky and ITV and become the sole owner from 2015/16 to 2017/18 BT can easily absorb these extra costs through cost savings in other parts of its business, but the direct revenue returns through subscription charges and advertising on BT Sport are expected to fall far below the annual rights payments of £300m BT’s Euro victory is not a game changer in itself, but eyes are now firmly fixed on the next auction in about 18 months time of live PL rights, which could prove to be an inflationary bloodbath for all market participants

  • Sky
  • ITV
  • BT
Fixed Line, Telecoms, TV, Media 12 November 2013
BT Sport vision and reality

The launch of BT Sport and the acquisition of European Champions League and Europa League rights have set the scene for the fiercest of conflicts when the domestic live Premier League rights fall due for renewal by auction in 2015

The scale of BT’s ambitions when translated into spend per percentage share of total viewing across the year are staggering for a national TV industry generating circa £12 billion a year on programming spend of less than £6 billion. The current level of rights payments by BT imply a grand annual total of £100+ billion, if all other parties paid the same rate

So far, BT Sport has performed similarly to Setanta and ESPN in terms of audience share, and with little visible gains since launch in the total estimated base of about 3.5 million households taking BT Sport. However, BT has a long-term vision and 2015 promises to be a crunch year

  • Sky
  • BT
Fixed Line, Telecoms, TV, Media 18 December 2013
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
BT steps into ESPN's trainers

BT Group’s acquisition of ESPN’s television business in the UK and Ireland marks an important step in cementing BT Sport’s position as the number two premium sports provider from the moment of launch.

The acquisition also raises the stakes, leaving BT with the strategic challenge of what distribution to opt for on the satellite and cable platforms to mitigate the high costs of BT Sport, but without overly sacrificing its USP for strengthening customer retention and building demand for high speed broadband on its own platform.

Crucial to BT’s success with BT Sport, yet obscured by the intense focus on the impending sports contest between BT and Sky, is how BT exploits YouView and multicast, all part of the bigger picture.

  • BT
  • Sky
Media, TV, Telecoms, Fixed Line 26 February 2013
BT tightens grip on Champions League TV

The latest auction of UEFA Champions League televised UK rights has seen further high 32% inflation as BT renewed its ownership for the three seasons from 2018/19 for an annual payment of £394 million

Although BT annual payments are to increase by £95 million from 2018/19, the new contract offers added commercial attractions, though we expect BT’s efforts to monetise them will fall some way short of the cost increase

However, BT had to win to cement its position against Sky as a strong number two in UK premium pay TV and we expect weaker future inflation of premium football rights. For Sky followers, the focus is now on the UEFA auctions in Germany and Italy, where the outcome is far from certain

  • BT
  • ITV
  • Sky
Media, TV 15 March 2017
BT Total Broadband Anywhere: Fusion enhanced, but still nowhere

BT’s new mobile product, BT Total Broadband Anywhere, is sensibly being sold as an optional add-on to its broadband line up, maximising the cross-selling opportunity

  • BT
Telecoms, Fixed Line 7 May 2008
BT unscheduled trading update: further drastic revisions at Global Services, with more to come

BT’s latest trading update involved a massive £340 million one-off charge to reflect a more cautious view of contract profitability and realign reported performance with cash flow; in addition reported GS EBITDA for the quarter to December is expected to be negligible

There will be little visibility of improved performance at GS until the various ongoing reviews of the business are completed, with a further charge related to one or more NHS contracts the most likely outcome

Performance at the rest of BT group is continuing to be relatively resilient, and price changes at BT Retail and Openreach should help to an extent. But GS looks likely to prove a major drag on group performance well into 2010

  • BT
Telecoms, Fixed Line 23 January 2009
BT Vision

BT plans to launch BT Vision – its hybrid Freeview-IPTV service – in Q4 2006. The aim is to broaden the appeal of its broadband offerings and help it to withstand aggressive competition from local-loop unbundlers such as Carphone Warehouse, Wanadoo/Orange and, soon, BSkyB 

Of the three known candidates, BSkyB stands to gain the most from acquiring AOL UK’s customer base, except that it would deepen an already challenging LLU cash flow profile. Orange’s market position would also be significantly strengthened by acquiring AOL UK’s customer base, with the added benefit of displacing a potentially harmful rival in BSkyB 

  • BT
Media, Telecoms 8 May 2006
BT vs. Sky at the Court of Appeal

BT’s case that the Competition Appeal Tribunal failed to address the reasons why the premium sports market works badly will finally arrive at the Court of Appeal tomorrow. We think BT’s chances of success are low, though a win would substantially enhance its competitive position in its battle against Sky BT’s complaint is that it has always wanted to retail Sky Sports channels, however Sky has always been unwilling to wholesale them, thereby resulting in no prospect of effective competition in the provision of premium sports on TV Ofcom implicitly endorsed BT’s position when it introduced the Wholesale Must Offer remedy. However, Sky took its case to the Competition Appeal Tribunal, which overturned Ofcom’s WMO remedy on the grounds of misinterpreting the evidence, only for BT to retort by taking its case to the Court of Appeal, which is to deliver a final verdict on whether BT is disadvantaged by Sky’s alleged anti-competitive behaviour

  • Sky
  • BT
Media, TV, Telecoms, Fixed Line 4 December 2013
BT Wholesale Broadband Access Speeds

BT Wholesale will launch IPStream Max, a rate adaptive ADSL product, on 31st March 2006, providing a downstream data rate greater than 6.5Mbit/s – a line speed that should support a wider range of good-quality video applications – to 25% of UK telephone lines

We believe that its focus on 3G is to blame, and the company seems poised to repeat this mistake with a focus on the latest industry fad, convergence 

  • BT
Telecoms 22 March 2006

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