Format: Mar 2019
Sector(s) Datesort ascending
French Broadband: The Final Battle?

ISPs have long found it difficult to challenge Wanadoo on its home French market successfully.   Wanadoo has built a commanding lead in the narrowband segment of the Internet access market, and dominates the DSL segment.   This report examines whether 2003 will be any different, and finds that, if anything, the intensity of competitive pressures is likely to grow rather than diminish as market focus shifts from narrowband to broadband. 

Telecoms 10 January 2003
UK Handset Survey

We have recently completed our December survey of UK mobile users, which shows increased purchase intentions for handsets in general and camera phones in particular.  We summarise the results in this note, which are good news for handset manufacturers, but more mixed for the operators.




Telecoms, Mobile 19 December 2002
UK Competition Commission Investigation Update

In January the UK Competition Commission (CC) is expected to issue its report on the pricing of mobile termination rates, an issue that was referred to it by Oftel after the UK operators rejected Oftel's initial decision. In this note we speculate on the likely contents of the report, and the impact on the UK mobile industry.

Media 17 December 2002
Digital Television in Europe

This report provides our forecasts for the growth rate of digital television homes in Europe over the next three years. We split countries into four groups and predict how the numbers of households with access to digital delivery of television will change in each group. The growth in satellite delivery has slowed considerably during late 2001 and 2002. The digitalisation of cable has stalled almost everywhere. So the only major uncertainty lies in the growth of digital terrestrial homes. This year has seen the failure of two of the four existing services, but the rebirth of the UK operator, in the form of the BBC's Freeview, may herald a more successful era. First indications are that Freeview is doing well. In other countries, however, the obstacles to the growth of a free-to-air service are more significant than in the UK and we do not believe that DTT will experience rapid growth in many other countries, despite the plethora of launches planned in the next few years.

Media 13 December 2002
Can NTL Service its new debt?

In the next few days, NTL expects to emerge from Chapter 11, relieved of $11 billion of debt. While the long negotiations over financial restructuring have been in progress, NTL management has been conducting a huge cost reduction exercise largely out of the public eye.

Telecoms 12 December 2002
TF1 - The Future of TPS

This note looks at the position of TPS, the satellite pay-TV venture largely owned by TF1 in France. We particularly focus on the issue of payments for football rights because sports rights have become the crucial ingredient in pay-TV success, in France and elsewhere.

  • TF1
Media 10 December 2002
Universal Music - Valuation

Universal Music is an important component of Vivendi’s business. As M. Fourtou shuffles his cards, the disposal or flotation of Universal becomes more likely by the day and this report values this market-leading record company.

Media 5 December 2002
C4 and E4

One response to the growth of the satellite and cable households has been for terrestrial broadcasters to launch their own digital channels. These channels are beginning to absorb significant fractions of the total programming budget and in this report we look at the implications for the parent broadcasters. We examine E4, Channel 4’s main satellite entertainment channel, showing that it is likely to remain a drain on the parent for many years to come. Rather than ‘strengthening the brand’ of terrestrial broadcasters, which is the reason normally given for diversification into satellite channels, our research shows that E4 and other services do nothing for the parent company and divert programming expenditure that would otherwise be usefully spent on the terrestrial service.

  • Channel 4
Media 29 November 2002
Mobile and Internet Substitution

Weak revenue growth has been a feature of both European and US fixed line incumbent operators over the last six months, with the root of the problem lying in poor growth, or even decline, in the volume of voice calls. This report looks at the reasons.




Telecoms, Mobile 27 November 2002
Canal+ The Showdown

Based on the recent announcement by the French Professional Football League, we now expect Canal+ to be awarded the exclusive rights to broadcast Premier League events for the three seasons starting in 2004, for which it offered €480 million. (Rival TPS is challenging the League's approach to the Competition Commission, so the story may yet have an unexpected ending.) These payments will add to an already hefty calendar of payments for Canal+ under the 1999 contract, as a result of which Canal+ is likely to report no or low profits in FY 2002. This note details the aggressive cost cutting and revenue-raising measures that will be needed to achieve a modest level of profitability going forward. By FY 2005, when Canal+ becomes the sole purveyor of Premier League events and payments rise by 60%, the subscriber base will have to be 180,000 higher just to maintain profits at 2004 levels. This seems a challenging target given that Canal+ lost 70,000 subscribers this year. In short, we think that Canal+ may have won the battle for Premier League rights at the price of its profitability in the medium-term.

  • Canal Plus
Media 26 November 2002
The Song Remains the Same

In spite of the widely publicised decline in sales of recorded music, the 'music publishing' business grew at an average annual rate of over 4% between 1995 and 2000. This report assesses the prospects for this important segment of the music industry.

Media 15 November 2002
Canal+ and Cegetel

The November 12th bids for football rights are a nightmare for Canal+. Its operating margins and cash flow are under pressure, but failure to outbid TPS would mean a probable loss of perhaps 25% of its subscribers. This makes it likely, we think, that TPS will end up buying Canal+ from Vivendi, whoever wins the football rights, at a much lower price than the valuation of €3.5bn suggested recently by Morgan Stanley. Similarly, Vivendi may realise that it will be forced to sell the studio and the record business to Bronfman/Diller for less than current valuations. This potential devastating scenario perhaps explains why M. Fourtou is so keen to buy the rest of Cegetel, rather than selling out to Vodafone. Otherwise he would have little else left to manage. Or perhaps he is simply playing poker with Chris Gent, but running the risk that he ends up over paying. Vodafone cannot lose. It will either buy Cegetel now, or wait for it to fall into its hands when the bankers withdraw support for Vivendi.

  • Canal Plus
Media 8 November 2002
UK Digital TV Forecasts

This note provides our forecast for the number of UK households able to receive extra television through satellite, cable and terrestrial multi-channel platforms. Though Sky’s performance has been strong this year, subscriber growth has been largely at the expense of cable and digital terrestrial. We expect this pattern – Sky outperformance within a slowly growing multi-channel universe – to continue. We are pessimistic about the prospects for Freeview, the BBC’s new digital terrestrial platform. The programme offering is weak and too directed towards the under 35s, who now largely already have digital television. The technical problems of obtaining better coverage for the service remain severe.

Media 6 November 2002
BT Broadband

In this report, we show that price competition between ISPs is helping to push broadband penetration to higher levels than we expected. BT is likely to achieve at least some of its targets for broadband connections. However, this is at the expense of profitability. We suggest that BT Retail is unlikely to make money on broadband connections, particularly in view of the high acquisition costs and the potential for subscriber churn. We also note that the BT strategy in broadband is crippling other ISPs.

Telecoms 4 November 2002
UK Internet Trends Q3 2002

This note shows the mixed evidence on household penetration. Most surveys report a distinct plateau in subscribing household numbers in the UK, particularly compared to France and Germany, where numbers are still growing. Other surveys show a continuing rise in individual users. On balance, we think the data does point to a clear deceleration in the growth in subscribing households. Current penetration is just over 10m homes, or 40% of the UK total.

Media 4 November 2002
Mobile Device Update

In this short note we look at three data product offerings recently launched by the operators: Vodafone Live!, the Orange SPV and Vodafone Mobile Office laptop card service. Vodafone Live! follows a sensible strategy of having the operator define the user interface to help drive revenues, and is launched with two new light and compact handset models. However, the service has many glitches, with only the camera function working as well as it should, and very few of its target market will be likely to be able to afford the handsets. The SPV and laptop cards, being aimed at business users, stand a much better chance of being affordable to their target market, but we wait to see if those products are marketed and executed well.




Telecoms, Mobile 1 November 2002
UK Consumer Magazines

The UK consumer magazines business has shown steady growth and stable profitability, though some individual participants have suffered from failed attempts at international expansion. The industry has overcome the advertising recession very successfully so far. This is partly because only 30% of revenue is derived from advertising, but also because page rates have continued to be firm. Though profit margins are currently lower than regional newspapers, the sector shows considerable scope for improved returns.

Several factors lie behind this assessment.  The first is that growth of Internet households will slow, possibly to 10%, although expansion will be faster than in the UK or Germany.   The second is that Wanadoo, as the ISP arm of France Télécom, continues to benefit in our view from advantages that other ISPs cannot match, significantly reducing customer acquisition and retention costs, whether on narrowband or on broadband.  Actions taken by the regulator have largely been too little, too late.

Media 28 October 2002
Vodafone Live

Vodafone Live represents an attempt to claw back some of the initiative from handset manufacturers, and to offer product and services that add to revenue. We look at the early evidence from the UK about the design of this package, its consumer appeal and the likely impact on ARPU. Vodafone is launching this new campaign with a Java-enabled camera phone from Sharp. It is putting tens of millions of pounds behind Live, apparently targeting the product at young urban males, a demographic group that has become very loyal to Nokia. The first phone is attractive and well featured, but we question whether it is of sufficiently general appeal significantly to influence overall ARPU in European markets, particularly in light of the low levels of interest we are finding in our consumer research on camera phones.

Our most recent survey of handset purchase intentions shows a dramatic increase in interest in buying a new phone among UK adults. 39% of handset owners claim an intention to purchase in the next year, compared to about 30% in the last three bi-monthly surveys.

  • Vodafone
Telecoms 28 October 2002
UK TV Viewing Trends - Issue 3

This is the third of our regular reports on UK TV viewing. The report contains details to support the following assertions

The operators were hoping that the CC would soften Oftel's seemingly tough proposals (RPI-12% price cap); it seems most likely now that they will actually toughen them, incorporating a one-off cut in the new regime, which we estimate would negatively impact industry EBITDA by just over 10%. The process will, however, be far from over: we predict at least one legal challenge ahead, possibly several, delaying the implementation for many months into next year (EC legislation comes into force on the 24th July 2003 which may delay matters even further).

Media 14 October 2002
Robbie Williams

What prompted EMI to spend about £60 million to acquire Robbie’s next two records and to buy options on the next four? Even for an artist as successful as Robbie Williams, the numbers do not add up. Having sold less than 6 million units of his last album, EMI appears to be gambling that his next two records will sell more than 8 million units each, of which 2 million need to be in the US.

Media 6 October 2002