Publications

Format: Aug 2018
Sector(s) Datesort ascending
Sky 2017/18 full year results: Winning the game of content

Sky maintained strong revenue growth of 5% in 2017/18, with EBITDA and operating profit both bouncing back into strong positive territory after the UK Premier League rights hit of 2016/17

The UK grew revenue well and profits better; Italy performed well and should improve much further given the retreat of its principal competitor; Germany is more challenged, but extra content investment may aid sustained growth

Sky is proving adept at managing content costs and revenue in a changing environment, with investment, cost control and monetisation all being put to effective use as the content type demands it

  • Sky
  • Sky Deutschland
  • Sky Italia
Fixed Line, Media, Mobile, Non UK Media, TV, UK Media 16 August 2018
Virgin Media Q2 2018 results: Measured approach in a tough market

Virgin Media had a mixed quarter, with subscriber ARPU growth maintained, partly driven by a triple play focus with pay TV and telephony adds much improved, but subscriber and broadband net adds unchanged

Cable revenue growth did slow from 3.6% to 3.1%, mainly due to the previous quarter’s net adds slowdown working through, and it is still growing the fastest of the big operators in a slow-growth market that still suffers from pricing pressure at the low end

Its network roll-out was slower than last year and only just above the weather-impacted previous quarter, which appears to be deliberate, and which may at least partly relate to an uncertain regulatory and commercial climate over ‘full fibre’ roll-out by others

  • Liberty Global
  • Virgin Media
Fixed Line, Media, Telecoms, UK Media 15 August 2018
Regulating harmful video content and advertising online: Publisher, platform or in between?

Video-sharing platforms, such as YouTube and Facebook video, enjoy a light-touch regulatory regime for harmful content and advertising. As video viewing of non-broadcaster content grows, the regulatory gap between TV broadcasters and video-sharing platforms widens, part of a broader uneven playing field for publishers and platforms

However, there is momentum against this: the “platforms vs publishers” divide looks set to weaken in EU law, and the platforms themselves are investing more in combatting harmful content within a self-regulatory regime, though their internal policies and outcomes are still opaque

Effective and fair regulation of video-sharing platforms would involve the balancing of national freedom of speech conventions and the public utility of user-generated video hosting with concerned stakeholder views: something approaching a co-regulatory system for online video-sharing platforms

  • Facebook
  • Google
Internet, Media, TV 15 August 2018
Local TV - Five years after launch

Although launched with an array of public service goals in mind, local TV’s flawed design has created a sector struggling to live up to its optimistic ambitions. 

Five years and £37 million of licence fee monies later, it is unclear what public service contributions are being made, or whether the scheme has provided value-for-money. A wholesale review of the sector is urgently needed.

The vision of a “thriving and sustainable” sector has fallen flat. Most licences remain loss-making, with doubts as to their long-term viability. Those operating low-cost models seem best placed to survive.

  • BBC
Media 14 August 2018
Consumer magazine publishing: Quality, not quantity

The decline in demand in print presents trading challenges, but the more immediate pressures are on the supply side, with a 15% rise in paper prices accentuating the burden of production and distribution costs

With digital advertising growing at stubbornly low rates, UK publishers need to return to their fundamental consumer-centred strengths by switching their strategic attention towards strong brands, curation, and community

The case for specialist, branded publishing media remains robust: products, services, and consumers are still best brought together in an authoritative, trusted media environment. Advertisers and agencies (and also media) have undervalued the effectiveness of those environments, and direct-to-consumer opportunities have been exaggerated by many brands

  • Amazon
  • Apple
  • Facebook
Internet, Media 13 August 2018
BT Q1 2018/19 results: On target in the short term, making progress for the long term

BT’s Q1 results were fairly robust given a number of one-offs hitting in the quarter, with revenue growth of -2% in line with full year guidance, EBITDA growth of 1% ahead of plan, and a number of metrics looking promising

Openreach’s newly announced volume discount plans offer advantages in growing high and higher speed volumes, infrastructure competitiveness and regulatory pricing pressure, while giving up little in external revenue, a win-win-win for BT at least

Full-fibre regulation appears to be slowly moving towards more clarity, but is still far too unclear to justify an accelerated investment, with critical issues being ducked (for now) by government and Ofcom alike

  • EE
  • BT
Fixed Line, Media, Mobile, Telecoms 3 August 2018
Revenues down, guidance in the balance: Vodafone Q1 2018/19 results

EBITDA growth guidance of 1-5% is in question with group revenues flat to down. Counting AMAP growth in local currencies helps, as will cost control and roaming relief. Sustaining growth in Germany will be key; convergence-led ARPU declines could prove to be something Vodafone can’t afford

Vodafone’s UK business performed strongly in terms of mobile subscribers and fixed business financials, although revenue growth is still lacklustre. Profitability is expected to increase markedly, boosted 10ppts by roaming tariff relief

Although we view Iliad’s business model in Italy as unsustainable, it will nonetheless continue to put significant pressure on Vodafone Italy’s ARPU, which is almost three times that of Iliad’s package

  • Vodafone
Fixed Line, Non-UK Telecoms, Mobile, Telecoms, Vodafone 31 July 2018
More than cautious: ITV H1 2018 results

ITV emphasised its strength and stability at its interim results; a sensible enough approach with a new CEO, and a departing FD/COO

Love Island and the World Cup were both successful, but advertising revenues are becalmed while ITV Studios is enjoying its day in the sun

The ‘strategic refresh’ looks excessively cautious, but heading in the right direction with an emphasis on ITV Hub

  • ITV
Media, Telecoms 30 July 2018
Hulu: Why Disney wants 21st Century Fox

Disney’s potential acquisition of certain 21st Century Fox assets is assuredly a play for further scale at a time when the company’s traditional domain, the family home, is increasingly welcoming services such as Netflix 

The deal will consolidate Disney’s dominant film business. But also, the robustness of traditional television, especially 21CF’s cable interests, along with IP assets, will allow Disney to better control the inevitable viewer transition from linear to online and on-demand

Becoming the one media company with both a strong broadcast and online offering—the control of Hulu, a new Disney streaming service, ESPN+ and other add-on services—could grant Disney the ability to navigate the storm of change and dictate its own future 
 

  • 21st Century Fox
  • Walt Disney
Media, Telecoms 26 July 2018
Quality media, Ozone protection

The Telegraph, The Guardian and News UK (The Times and The Sun) will jointly invest in The Ozone Project to develop a state-of-the-art platform to sell their digital inventory

Ozone will add value to news digital inventory and seek to win back advertiser expenditure on Facebook and Google’s various properties, (indirectly) reigniting interest in placement next to quality news media content

Each JV participant operates a distinct business model, which risks friction, but this digital reboot is crucial. By 2020, Ozone could add circa £30 million per annum – not a trivial contribution to a national newspaper newsroom

  • Guardian Media Group
  • News UK
  • Telegraph Media Group
Media, Technology, UK Media 25 July 2018
The drive for convergence: a value-destructive strategy

Many European telecoms operators are pursuing a fixed/mobile convergence strategy on the pretext that the addition of mobile reduces churn. We see no evidence of churn reduction from this strategy

Discounts required to encourage take-up of fixed/mobile services are often value-destructive, even before competitor reaction: a 10% bundle discount necessitates a 2ppt improvement in churn to wash its face economically. M&A premia on the basis of convergence synergies raise the hurdle even higher

Most UK operators offer very limited discounts on fixed/mobile bundles for now, sensibly focusing on enhanced services. Vodafone is the most aggressive, albeit less so than it is elsewhere. All UK players should hope that it stays this way

  • France Telecom
  • O2
  • Orange
  • T-Mobile
  • Telecom Italia
  • Vodafone
Fixed Line, Mobile, Telecoms, Vodafone 23 July 2018
AV ad measurement: meretricious metrics

Rigour and consistency in AV ad metrics is proving elusive. A 10-second ad on YouTube, ITV1, All4, MailOnline, Sky AdSmart or Facebook is measured in as many different ways, often indifferently. It is tricky, costly or impossible for agencies/advertisers to comprehend the overall picture

By 2020 JIC-based BVOD ad impressions should be available from BARB all being well, giving BVOD a clear advantage over other premium online video measurement

Google/YouTube seems to be ‘getting’ JIC co-operation now and has begun to galvanise video ad measurement, but forceful advertiser intervention is needed to extend and improve standards. Otherwise, advertisers are simply funding a JIC-free jamboree, and they (with content media) will lose the most

  • Channel 4
  • Facebook
  • Google
  • ITV
  • Sky
  • Virgin Media
  • YouTube
Media 19 July 2018
Focus back on ARPU: TalkTalk Group Q1 2018/19 results

TalkTalk had another strong quarter for broadband net adds, adding 80k versus its full year target of 150k+. All of this was due to strong wholesale, with retail net adds slightly negative, although in the market and seasonal context even this retail performance is quite respectable

On-net revenue growth improved strongly to around 4%, with its ARPU decline moderating to 2%, and ARPU should be helped further by price increases for existing and new customers alike in July

TalkTalk therefore looks well placed to hit full year targets, albeit with considerable help from its wholesale customers and some aggressive price increases. The focus back onto ARPU and away from (expensively) chasing retail subscriber growth is nonetheless to be applauded

  • TalkTalk
Fixed Line, Media, Telecoms, TV 18 July 2018
TV platform forecasts to 2022: stability rules

Despite significant changes in people’s video viewing habits over the last few years, the TV platform landscape has appeared to reach an equilibrium

We expect pay-TV to retain its utility status for most existing customers. At the margins, movement from Sky and Virgin Media to free-to-air or pay-lite services will be mitigated by population growth

The excitable growth phases for Netflix and Amazon are likely to be over, but they have carved out prominent positions in the market. Meanwhile, the uncomplicated allure of free TV remains strong for half the UK

  • Amazon
  • BBC
  • Freesat
  • Freeview
  • Netflix
  • Sky
  • TalkTalk
  • Virgin Media
Media, TV, UK Media 10 July 2018
Europe's Creative Hubs Update 2018

This third edition of Europe's Creative Hubs, produced on behalf of Bertelsmann, highlights the challenges of the digital age for enterprises of the creative industries of France, Germany and the UK from new consumer behaviours and the advent of new competitors and new forms of competition for users and customers from tech giants, Amazon, Facebook, Google and Netflix. The report calls upon policymakers in Europe to ensure a level playing field for traditional media in the key areas of taxation, competition law, privacy and data protection, highlighting the interaction of these three in the market for online advertising.

  • Bertelsmann
Media, Telecoms, TV 5 July 2018
Virtual Reality in 2018: Ready Player None?

Yet another annual hype cycle in 2018 can’t hide a tepid consumer appetite for all VR platforms and heavy weather for the industry as a whole

The launch of Oculus GO, a standalone device at an attractive price, is a milestone for VR; nevertheless, even Facebook remains worried about reach and the state of the industry

Mobile AR is still a strategic focus for Google and Apple, producing diverse applications instead of just games, but new headsets from Microsoft and Magic Leap which promise advanced MR experiences have no launch dates

  • Apple
  • Facebook
  • Google
  • HTC
  • Samsung
Internet, Media, Technology, Telecoms, TV 3 July 2018
Is CRR still critical to protect advertisers from ITV?

The workings of the TV advertising market are a mystery to most. Overlaying an arcane ‘share of broadcast spend’ trading mechanism is regulation in the form of CRR, which has prevented anti-competitive activity by ITV since 2003

CRR will protect advertisers ‘for as long as needed’. Most advertisers we canvassed believe it should stay in place, but the sell-side and auditors say CRR has passed its ‘Best before’ date and is heading towards its ‘Use by’ date

We propose a review of CRR by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to determine whether it is now helping or hindering the TV advertising ecosystem to become fit-for-purpose for the digital age

  • Channel 4
  • ITV
  • Sky
Media, Telecoms 27 June 2018
The home screen: distribution, discovery and data on connected TVs

The TV, the main screen in the house, is rapidly becoming connected to the internet, opening a new front in the battle for people's attention

Tech players, pay-TV operators, and manufacturers are all aiming to control the user interface, ad delivery and data collection, leaving incumbent broadcaster interests less well represented

To protect their position, and the principles of public service broadcasting, broadcasters will have to work with each other at home and in Europe to leverage their content and social importance

  • Amazon
  • Apple
  • BBC
  • Channel 4
  • Facebook
  • Freeview
  • Google
  • ITV
  • Netflix
  • Samsung
  • YouTube
Media, Telecoms 25 June 2018
Sky finally renews Serie A rights until 2021

Italy’s top football league awarded Sky the broadcasting rights to seven games per week from August 2018 until May 2021 for €780 million per year, up €208 million. UK-based Perform will carry three games for €193 million. Mediaset exits the market, freeing Sky from price competition

Besides Serie A, Sky added Mediaset’s Hollywood series and films to its content line up in May and will include the Champions League from August. We expect costs to rise by up to €500 million per year, which could be recouped by cuts in content and by recruiting Mediaset subscribers, notably on Sky’s new DTT feed

The best model for Perform would be to wholesale its new DAZN service to Sky, but even if a deal is found we doubt it could break even within the rights cycle

  • Sky
  • Sky Italia
Media, Telecoms 19 June 2018
Advertising after the turning point: when offline is the exception

Online advertising became the majority of all UK ad spend last year, in step with China but ahead of all other major markets. 

Direct response has further increased its share to 54% of UK ad spend, fuelled by the self-serve platforms of Google, Facebook and Amazon, while content media nets just 11% of the online advertising pot.

We estimate that all online-delivered channels - including "pure play" online properties, broadcaster VOD, digital out-of-home and online radio - could account for well over 60% of UK ad spend by 2020, but only with improved commitment to industry governance. 

  • Amazon
  • Facebook
  • Google
  • Sky
  • Spotify
Internet, Media, Mobile, Non UK Media, Technology, TV, UK Media 14 June 2018

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