Publications

Format: Jun 2019
sort descending Sector(s) Date
UK broadband, telephony and pay TV trends Q1 2017: Profit warnings come in threes

UK residential communications market revenue growth dipped 0.6ppts in Q1, from 3.3% in the previous quarter. This was mainly driven by ARPU weakness arising due to the timings of Sky and Virgin Media’s price rises, but weakness also stemmed from the sustained decline in broadband volume growth and continued new customer price competition

In competitive terms, BT and Sky suffered as a result of communicating price rises in the quarter, Virgin Media had a strong quarter if not quite as good as it was expecting, and TalkTalk manged to recover to positive retail broadband net adds at the expense of high marketing costs

BT, Liberty Global and TalkTalk issued profit warnings in the quarter, all of which were at least loosely related to increasing pressures in the consumer market. We expect these pressures – a slowing broadband market, an expanding Virgin Media, and a stabilising TalkTalk – to continue

  • Liberty Global
  • Sky
  • TalkTalk
  • Virgin Media
Fixed Line, Internet, Media, Mobile, Telecoms, TV, UK Media 19 June 2017
UK broadband, telephony and pay TV trends Q1 2018: Diverging strategies

UK residential communications market revenue growth strengthened in Q1, but this was entirely driven by an overlapping price increase from BT, and the decline in market volume growth continues

Continued pressure on both subscriber volume growth and ARPU has led to diverging strategies, with most operators focused on sustaining ARPU, but TalkTalk chasing volumes at the low end, with the former approach currently proving more successful

Looking forward, the benefit of BT’s price rise will fall away completely next quarter and market revenue growth will likely resume its downward trend, but the nadir may be within sight if the flight to quality persists at most operators

  • EE
  • Liberty Global
  • Sky
  • TalkTalk
  • Virgin Media
Fixed Line, Media, Telecoms 12 June 2018
UK broadband, telephony and pay TV trends Q2 2013: Revenue strong, uncertainties abated

UK residential communications revenue growth was again strong in Q2 2013 at 4% supported by strong unit volume growth (despite seasonal factors in the quarter) and firming ARPU, helped by firm pricing and high speed broadband take up

High speed broadband adoption continued apace at BT and Virgin Media, but much more slowly at the other operators. This may start to change in the second half of the year, as Sky and TalkTalk market the product more aggressively, and a wires-only self-install version becomes available

Overall the market outlook remains very healthy, with two potential areas of market disruption – BT Sport and regulated pricing – looking like they will resolve without prompting a damaging price war

  • Virgin Media
  • TalkTalk
  • Sky
  • O2
  • EE
Fixed Line, Telecoms 13 August 2013
UK broadband, telephony and pay TV trends Q2 2014: BT leads the way

Market revenue growth in the UK residential communications sector continued to be robust in Q2 2014 at 5.4%, a slight increase on the previous quarter, with continued volume growth and firm pricing countering weak call volumes and the negative impact of a VAT legislation change hitting Virgin Media and TalkTalk

BT was the fastest growing out of the ‘big four’ in revenue terms in Q2 even after the direct revenue impact of BT Sport is excluded, a remarkable turnaround after being in last place a year ago, driven by both volume and ARPU growth continuing to accelerate, with fibre helping both

Since the end of Q2, promotional activity has already intensified, particularly from BT and Sky around the start of the new football season, and churn is likely to be under more pressure at all of the operators, although the disruption is likely to be less severe than that experienced around the launch of BT Sport last year, and we expect all of the major players to continue to grow in net terms

  • Virgin Media
  • TalkTalk
  • Sky
  • EE
Fixed Line, Telecoms 19 August 2014
UK broadband, telephony and pay TV trends Q2 2015: ARPU dips, but bounce back in sight

While volume growth remained robust in Q2, UK residential communications revenue growth did dip again during the quarter, to 3.6% from 4.5% in the previous quarter and 5%-6% for much of 2014

However, this largely related to the timing of price increases, with there being a host of headline and effective increases due before the end of the year. The combined effect of those announced so far is sufficient to push market growth back up to the 5%-6% range for both of the next two quarters

Looking ahead, the actual launch of BT Sport Europe in Q3 may have further impact, but a modest pre-launch effect suggests that this will not be dramatic. BT will be hoping that it at least drives an acceleration of growth in its TV base, given that it is still free for these users

  • Sky
  • TalkTalk
  • Virgin Media
Telecoms 20 August 2015
UK broadband, telephony and pay TV trends Q2 2017: Dead cat bounce?

UK residential communications market revenue growth bounced up to 3.6% in Q2, a full 1.4ppt improvement on the previous quarter and reversing the downwards trend of the previous two quarters. However, this was entirely driven by price rises at BT and Sky, with the ongoing market volume growth decline continuing at pace

In competitive terms, TalkTalk was the only operator able to improve its broadband net adds on a year earlier, and Virgin Media was solid with only a modest decline, leaving BT and Sky shouldering the worst of the slowdown, albeit with neither company doing particularly poorly given the market context

New customer pricing remains tight, with Virgin Media in particular becoming more competitive. Looking forward, we expect volumes to continue to slow, and for the pricing boost enjoyed in Q2 to largely drop out next quarter, leading to a renewed revenue growth slowdown

  • Liberty Global
  • Sky
  • TalkTalk
  • Virgin Media
Fixed Line, Media, Telecoms, UK Media 23 August 2017
UK broadband, telephony and pay TV trends Q2 2018: Great volume, shame about the ARPU

UK broadband subscriptions re-accelerated in Q2, bucking a three-year downward trend, but market revenue growth still fell as BT’s overlapping price increase dropped out and all of the operators continued to struggle to meaningfully grow ARPU

Regular existing customer price increases and continued (but slowing) migration to high speed are being cancelled out by flat-to-down new customer pricing, and the frequent need to discount existing customers down to these levels to retain them

High speed net adds disappointed despite Openreach’s price cut, with many consumers unwilling to pay even a modest price premium for extra speed, a sobering thought as aggressive full fibre network roll-outs are being considered

  • TalkTalk
  • Sky
  • Virgin Media
  • BT
Fixed Line, Media, Telecoms, UK Media 28 August 2018
UK broadband, telephony and pay TV trends Q3 2012: Volumes falter, but pricing remains firm

After a host of TV-related announcements/launches last quarter, the main feature of the last three months has been price increase announcements, with all four of the large operators announcing a significant price increase(s) to take effect between December 2012 and February 2013

High speed net adds remained strong at BT, and grew dramatically at the other DSL operators, although the latter figure remained very low in absolute terms. In time we expect strong adoption by Sky and TTG subscribers, but it may take years rather than months for consumer expectations of what is a ‘standard’ broadband speed to change

TTG reported some encouraging but not market-changing early figures for its new TV product, and BT is expected to launch a product with extra linear channels within the next few months. We continue to believe that both companies’ products will struggle to win subscribers off Sky and Virgin Media, but that they may have appeal to a modestly sized group of consumers that are not currently pay TV customers

  • Virgin Media
  • TalkTalk
  • Sky
  • O2
  • EE
Fixed Line, Telecoms 3 December 2012
UK broadband, telephony and pay TV trends Q3 2013: Revenue growth strong, cost growth stronger

The UK residential communications sector again had a strong quarter for revenue growth, with reported growth from the top four operators at 5%, or around 4% excluding the one-off impact of extra BT Sport related revenues

Unfortunately cost growth was even stronger, with margins dropping at three of the four largest operators. The aggressive launch of BT Sport has driven up content costs, marketing costs or both for all of the operators

The main issue going forward will continue to be actual and potential disruption relating to BT Sport. Content and marketing costs have likely been set at a new higher level, with further increases possible up to and following mid-2015, when the next Premier League auction is due and BT takes over the Champions League rights

  • Sky
  • TalkTalk
  • Virgin Media
Telecoms, Fixed Line 2 December 2013
UK broadband, telephony and pay TV trends Q3 2014: Quad play and convergence focus

Market revenue growth in the UK residential communications sector dipped down to 4.5% in Q3, from 5.4% in the previous quarter, but underlying revenue growth actually rose a touch by our estimates. In an intensely competitive quarter, BT lost ground relatively in broadband, with its net adds dropping compared to growth at the others, but BT still had the highest net adds in absolute terms, and continued to lead the way in revenue growth

With BT’s mooted bid for a mobile operator and quad play moves being highlighted by several operators, in this report we re-examine the evidence for consumer demand for quad play and find it still wanting. In the UK since 2001 there have been eight attempts at cross-selling between fixed and mobile, with five outright failures (three of which were from BT), two attempts that lost market share after an acquisition but are now growing modestly, and one attempt which has successfully gained modest share

The UK fixed business has better growth and far better margins than the mobile business. BT alone makes more cashflow in the UK than the entire mobile industry put together – the grass may always seem greener on the other side, but in this case it definitely is greener in fixed. The fixed operators have far more to lose than to gain, and for this reason alone they should perhaps be wary in their approach to quad play

  • Virgin Media
  • TalkTalk
  • Sky
  • EE
Fixed Line, Telecoms 5 December 2014
UK broadband, telephony and pay TV trends Q3 2015: Volumes steady, ARPU bounces up

UK residential communications revenue growth bounced up in Q3 as we had predicted, on the back of continuing solid volume growth and improved ARPU growth driven by a series of price increases impacting in the quarter

The overall revenue growth of 6% was supported by some one-off factors, such as overlapping price increases and the launch of BT Sport Europe, but we believe that growth at this level will be sustained for the next two quarters at least

Looking forward, the impact of TalkTalk’s cyber-attack is uncertain in the detail, but it will clearly slow TalkTalk, benefit some of the others and may temporarily impact market volumes. Another area of competitive uncertainty is the impact of Virgin Media’s network extension as it gathers momentum into 2016, with all of the others likely to lose significant share in Virgin’s expanded areas

  • Sky
  • TalkTalk
  • Virgin Media
Fixed Line, Telecoms 30 November 2015
UK broadband, telephony and pay TV trends Q3 2016: Peak growth?

UK residential communications market revenue growth accelerated to 5.8% in Q3, from 5.0% in the previous quarter, helped by an overlapping price rise at BT, and supported by firm pricing and accelerating high speed adoption elsewhere

In contrast, volume growth in the core three products continues to slow, with little sign that this will ever re-accelerate. In the longer term we cannot see ARPU growth acceleration continuing to fully compensate, and market revenue growth might also have peaked

With Virgin Media’s continuing network extension and improving pay TV service putting pressure on the other operators, Sky and TalkTalk are protecting themselves by aggressively marketing high speed broadband. Correspondingly, this quarter marks the first time that Openreach’s high speed net adds were mostly derived outside of BT’s retail divisions

  • Sky
  • TalkTalk
  • Virgin Media
Fixed Line, Telecoms, UK Media 16 December 2016
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

  • Sky
  • TalkTalk
  • Virgin Media
Fixed Line, Media, Telecoms, UK Media 11 December 2017
UK broadband, telephony and pay TV trends Q3 2018 - ARPU showing signs of life

Broadband market volume growth resumed its downward trend in the September quarter after a blip in the previous quarter that was likely caused by a wholesale transfer distorting the figures. Revenue growth, however, perked up to 1.9% from 1.7% in the previous quarter, an encouraging recovery especially given that it was not primarily driven by the timing of a price increase

ARPU growth improved across all four of the major operators, countering recent trends, with a focus on higher value offerings a common theme. High speed broadband adoption accelerated in the quarter across most operators, encouraged by Openreach’s volume discount offer, although this was partially driven by keener high speed pricing

Revenue growth at Virgin Media, Sky and TalkTalk converged at around 3%, with BT Consumer lagging at -1%. However, excluding the effect of BT’s shrinking telephony-only base and smoothing the sporadic boost of its 9-monthly price rise, BT Consumer’s revenue is in the middle of the pack at 3.0% 

  • BT
  • Liberty Global
  • Sky
  • TalkTalk
  • Virgin Media
Media, Telecoms 19 December 2018
UK broadband, telephony and pay TV trends Q4 2012: Solid and solidifying

Both subscriber and revenue growth in the UK home communications market perked up in Q4, with an easing of weather related supply-side constraints helping the former and firm pricing helping that latter. We expect both trends to continue into 2013

BT’s high speed broadband net adds accelerated in the quarter, as did that of the other DSL operators, albeit from a much lower base. High speed broadband is already a mass market phenomenon within the BT and Virgin Media subscriber bases, with it only a matter of time before this spreads further

Virgin Media had a record quarter, as it continues to benefit from being able to offer high broadband speeds at very competitive prices, with its planned acquisition by Liberty Global unlikely to change its strategy or performance going forward

  • Virgin Media
  • TalkTalk
  • Sky
  • O2
  • EE
Fixed Line, Telecoms 4 March 2013
UK broadband, telephony and pay TV trends Q4 2013: Volume and price driven growth continues

The UK residential communications sector maintained strong revenue growth of 5% in Q4 on a reported basis, or 4% underlying, bolstered by strong volumes and solid pricing, with recent price increase implementations supporting the latter going forward

It is still hard to see a very significant competitive impact from BT Sport, with BT’s broadband net adds up by only 20k-30k on a year earlier, but the impact on costs is very clear, with increased sports rights costs, increased marketing costs and pay TV box/device subsidies driving up the cost base of all operators

Looking forward, in the short term market volumes are likely to be suppressed by recent bad weather lengthening provisioning times, and the detailed timings of price increases will suppress ARPU growth. In the medium term the outlook is much stronger, although the prospect of increased competitive activity around the next Premier League rights auction still casts a shadow

  • Virgin Media
  • TalkTalk
  • Sky
Fixed Line, Telecoms 3 March 2014
UK broadband, telephony and pay TV trends Q4 2014: Growth, investment and competition

The UK residential communications sector continues to be in rude health, with revenue growth in Q4 accelerating by 1ppt to 5.7%, the strongest it has been for years, with all of the operators enjoying an improvement. Volumes were strong, and ARPU even stronger, with the latter driving most of the revenue growth progress, driven by firm pricing and high speed broadband adoption

Growing revenues and profits in an industry tends to encourage both investment and competition, and this is certainly the case in the fixed telecoms market, as BT announced plans for higher speed services using G.fast and Virgin Media announced a 4 million premises network expansion. The timings suggest that Virgin Media will keep its edge; given historic trends and its network capabilities we expect it to be offering superior speeds to G.fast by the time G.fast hits the mass market

In competitive terms the biggest short term threat is EE, which is growing its broadband base at 15%, and may accelerate further in 2015. Its success appear to stem not so much from the raw appeal of ‘quad play’ bundling as improved performance in the mechanics of cross-selling from physical shops. EE itself may be less of a threat if its planned merger with BT is completed, but Vodafone is launching broadband services in the spring, and H3G/O2 may yet be encouraged into the market

  • Virgin Media
  • TalkTalk
  • Sky
  • EE
Fixed Line, Telecoms 27 February 2015
UK broadband, telephony and pay TV trends Q4 2015: Diversified growth

The UK residential communications market maintained strong growth of 6% in Q4, helped by overlapping price increases at BT and TalkTalk, albeit mitigated by weaker volume growth as a result of the TalkTalk cyber-attack

This strong growth level benefits from multiple factors, including continually growing broadband adoption, broadband ARPU being boosted by the shift to superfast, price increases across line rental, calls and premium pay TV, and additional pay TV adoption at the lower end

We expect a modest dip in market revenue growth moving into 2016 as various one-off boosts drop out, but the underlying drivers of growth are sufficiently diversified to give us confidence that further downside is limited

  • Sky
  • TalkTalk
  • Virgin Media
Fixed Line, Telecoms 7 April 2016
UK broadband, telephony and pay TV trends Q4 2016: Under pressure

UK residential communications market revenue growth fell to 3.3% in Q4, from 5.4% in the previous quarter. The slowdown was mainly caused by BT’s overlapping price rise dropping out, but there was also ARPU weakness at Sky (due to price rise timings) and TalkTalk (due to re-contracting customers)

Volume growth in the core three products continued its decline, with broadband reaching saturation, line rental suffering from Virgin’s broadband solo offering and pay-lite TV offers losing momentum. Looking forward, recent and upcoming price increases should allow some recovery from current revenue growth levels

However, competitive pressures are increasing. Virgin Media’s network extension continues to accelerate, TalkTalk is attempting to stabilise its base and new customer pricing has fallen substantially since December 2016 – causing a dramatic disparity in new/existing customer pricing. The higher churn and/or reduced ARPU this is likely to cause, combined with slowing market volumes, indicate that market revenue growth is unlikely to recover to the 5-6% it enjoyed for most of 2015 and 2016

 

  • Sky
  • TalkTalk
  • Virgin Media
Fixed Line, Media, Telecoms 16 March 2017
UK broadband, telephony and pay TV trends Q4 2018 - High speed accelerates, but pricing under pressure

Market revenue growth accelerated to 3% in Q4, but it might never reach this level again, being helped by a never-to-be-repeated BT overlapping price rise

With price rises becoming more challenging in general, and superfast pricing under pressure in particular, maintaining/increasing ARPUs is becoming more difficult despite superfast volumes surging

Openreach’s ultrafast roll-out has accelerated, challenging Virgin Media and bringing the prospect of further price premia, but perhaps too late to be of significant benefit in 2019

  • BT
  • Sky
  • TalkTalk
  • Virgin Media
  • Vodafone
Media, Telecoms 28 March 2019

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