Publications

Format: Dec 2017
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US Q3 handset sales: 80% smart, 41% iPhone

In Q3 the ‘big four’ US mobile operators sold 22.6m phones to retail contract customers (90% of the market): 80% were smartphones and 41% were iPhones The iPhone has had close to 50% of US smartphone sales every quarter since December 2011, when Sprint began selling the iPhone, and shows no sign of weakness US iPhone sales are supported by a market pricing structure that masks the iPhone’s price premium

  • Apple
Mobile, Telecoms, Technology 9 November 2012
US recorded music bumps along in 2013

US recorded music retail sales fell 5% in 2013 to $5.5 billion on a bruising 17% decline in physical sales and a sharp slow-down in digital growth

DTO retail sales slipped for the first time in 2013, a trend that continued in Q1 2014. On a brighter note, the leap from 3.4 to 6.1 million subscribers makes the US the top market for the format

At the wholesale level, the fall in revenues from B2C sales was entirely offset by the rise in B2B revenues from ad-supported music where usage is booming – in 2013, B2B contributed 16% of wholesale revenues of $4.5 billion

Telecoms, Music and Radio, Media 15 April 2014
US recorded music gets some mojo

The US recorded music market (at retail level) touched bottom in 2012 on strong digital sales and adoption of digital subscription services, and will grow in 2013 The industry’s licensing revenues in 2012 were also boosted by much higher performance revenues collected by SoundExchange from digital radio services such as webcaster Pandora and satellite provider Sirius XM The margin enhancing effect of an improved sales mix as the physical to digital transition proceeds to a licensing model is mirrored in the results of Warner Music Group, which also includes a music publishing segment

Non-UK Media, Music and Radio, Media 26 February 2013
Used car marketing outlook

This is the third and final report in our annual review of vertical marketplaces (classifieds), focused on used cars, and follows Vertical marketplaces overview and recruitment outlook [2015-115] and Property marketing outlook [2015-116]. Auto Trader has long been the leading platform in cars – this was true in print, and the business is the greatest example of digital transition from print to digital we have seen anywhere in the world. Auto Trader was successfully IPO’d in 2015. The timing was good as the used car market is buoyant with many young cars coming to market following a period of intense new car purchasing, which was fuelled by attractive financing. Could Auto Trader be squeezed by the combination of specialist services Pistonheads and What Car? (Haymarket) at the top of the market, and Gumtree at the bottom? There is limited evidence of this to date, and AutoTrader is moving up the value chain, albeit without fundamentally diversifying its revenue model. The opportunities for growth from declining print revenue will shrink, however, and there is some downside risk for the market as a whole if car oversupply, driven by a decline in the number of used car buyers, become more accentuated.

Internet, Media 18 December 2015
UTV and SMG merger could revive commercial radio sector

The prospect of a merger between Scottish Media Group (SMG) and UTV (formerly Ulster Television) provides exactly the positive news the commercial radio sector needs at this time. The merger would bring together two national stations, Virgin Radio and TalkSport, under the same ownership, creating opportunities to increase these stations’ audiences, grow their revenue yields, and improve profitability whilst, at the same time, reducing operational costs by combining their management and sales functions.

  • SMG
Media 29 August 2006
Valuing Chrysalis music publishing assets

Chrysalis, the music publishing company, is for sale and expressions of interest have been received from EMI Music Publishing, Warner Chappell, SonyATV as well as a small number of private equity companies, with final bids due this week

Media, Music and Radio 24 January 2008
Valuing Premier League Football Rights

The FA Premier League Limited has set a deadline of 14:00 on Thursday 27th April 2006 for receiving bids for live televised Premier League (PL) rights under the new three-year contract due to start with the 2007/08 football season. BSkyB is everyone's favourite to win at least four out of the six packages of 23 games up for auction, but probably the maximum best-looking five under the new rules that will not allow total exclusivity. Valuing Premier League Football Rights [2006-11] addresses the question of how much BSkyB may have to bid in order to win.

The combined NTL/Telewest occupies the centre ground of the triple play space in the UK. It has long provided the triple play of TV, telephony and broadband and is now the largest ISP in the UK. However, it has historically been constrained by high prices and poor customer service.

Media 10 April 2006
Versatel - Football-driven LLU?

The experience of Versatel (now owned by Tele2) in The Netherlands provides a cautionary tale for new entrant altnets hoping to use premium content to gain broadband market share in a well-contested and maturing broadband market (58% household penetration). In late 2004,Versatel was the surprise winner of the 2000-2008 broadcast licence for the domestic football league Eredivisie (carried only by Versatel and licensed to satellite TV), but Versatel's broadband market share and that of other unbundlers fell in 2005 while those of incumbent KPN (operating under three brands) and cable rose.

We welcome that the company appears to be de-emphasising 3G, with SACs reduced and 3G as a percentage of handset sales dropping from 20% to 12%. Unfortunately, just as Vodafone is recovering from the 3G industry fad, it seems keen to get distracted by another – convergence 

Telecoms 16 May 2006
Versatile multiproduct strategy: Sky fiscal Q1 2011 results

A switch in marketing focus from HD to home communications and sports appeared chiefly responsible for a record quarter in multiproduct take-up, with the biggest increases being registered in broadband, telephony and line rental

Although Q1 2011 net HD take-up halved against the previous quarter, partly reflecting reduced emphasis in marketing plus the World Cup factor, there is abundant room for growth and we expect a strong Q2 as Sky enlarges its HD offer with the ITV digital channels, and prepares for the launch of Sky Atlantic HD in early calendar 2011

The exceptional leap in home communications product sales underlines Sky’s competitive strengths against the rest of the sector using its existing LLU platform, suggesting Sky is under little pressure to sign up to BT’s more expensive high speed broadband access product

  • Sky
Fixed Line, Telecoms, TV, Media 25 October 2010
Vertical marketplaces overview and recruitment classified outlook

Our annual review of vertical marketplaces (classifieds) is presented in three reports, with the first providing a summary of the key macro trends, technological developments and spending outlook for the total UK classified advertising market followed by a detailed analysis of recruitment marketing; we will look at the property and auto verticals separately in two upcoming publications. Overall, we believe that the UK classified market is poised for a period of sustained innovation as the print to digital transition matures and incumbents search for new revenue streams induced by slowing digital revenue growth and consumer and client demand coupled with increasingly applicable emerging technologies. Across the three verticals we identify voice, video, virtual and augmented reality, user-generated content; and, critically, Artificial Intelligence as potentially disruptive forces. In terms of macroeconomic drivers, we observe that the Brexit referendum has had a minimal impact thus far but believe that economic uncertainty around the terms of the UK’s departure from the EU will prove a significant dampener on revenue growth in the next two years.

In recruitment, the jobs market remains in growth despite the initial shock from the referendum and the recruitment industry continues to grow its revenues, up 2% in 2016 by our estimates. However, recruitment advertising spend itself was down -1% in the first half of this year reflecting the saturation of the online market as the print to digital transition reaches its latter stages; online now accounts for 76% of recruitment spend. The pay per listings model of traditional job boards appears increasingly outdated and in the future we believe that recruitment advertising services’ main value will lie in collecting and organising job seeker data rather than charging for advertising space, a view corroborated by Microsoft’s $22.6bn acquisition of LinkedIn announced in June. Meanwhile, the online jobs aggregator Indeed continues to build its revenue share while print brands’ digital revenues fell in both 2015 and H1 2016.

Internet, Media 28 November 2016
Vertical marketplaces overview and recruitment outlook

Our annual review of vertical marketplaces (classifieds) is provided over three reports, with property and auto to follow, and this first report summarizing the macro trends, issues and outlook, as well as a detailed study of recruitment marketing. Taken as a whole we identify three critical themes in specialist markets:

• Portals are extraordinarily popular with consumers, growing their importance in the value chain; the print to digital transition is far from over
• But portal reliance on revenue growth from print decline is starting to retreat; revenue diversification strategies are emerging
• Nonetheless, disruption in vertical markets is stubbornly slow, with leading portals using paid media models (print models) to sustain their position.

The recruitment market is buoyant (up 10%), so portals, specialists and intermediaries are generally doing well, while local newspapers have lost some market share. Linkedin (professional social media, which has diversified into skills and training) and Indeed (freemium jobs aggregator, which provides performance charging and will introduce new services in 2016) are the key influences in the marketplace, and both are growing very strongly. The value chain in recruitment is being slowly restructured. Recruiter demand for highly skilled, specialist candidates does not have the labour supply to support it, sustaining marketing expenditure, though print spend continues to decline.

  • Auto Trader
  • LinkedIn
  • Rightmove
Internet, Media 16 December 2015
Very High Speed Broadband: A Case For Intervention?

In continental Europe ‘public/private partnerships’ rolling out very high speed broadband (VHSB) access networks to consumers are the latest rage, with local governments pushing their own subsidy initiatives and seeking to secure cover from European Commission rules on state aid. These initiatives raise basic questions about the future of the telecommunications industry, including whether the supply of network infrastructure will be led by demand for applications or by the will of politicians, subsidies at hand

Telecoms, Fixed Line, Non-UK Telecoms 24 January 2007
Viceland: Is this what the kids want?

A lacklustre UK launch of Viceland—the new, multinational linear television channel from youth-skewing, gonzo-esque Vice Media—followed six months after a similarly underwhelming entrance into the US

It is surely early days, but despite strong content, the initial results were predictable, considering the challenges. The response by Vice, that viewing figures are essentially immaterial to its plans, was expected but deviated from earlier, bullish sentiments

Beyond linear viewing, as an intended mass “content generator” to power the greater Vice online network, Viceland may answer a fundamental question: Is Vice and its distinctive content really what the kids want?

  • BBC
  • Vice Media
Media, TV 4 October 2016
Video games: buoyant year ahead

The Game Developers Conference (GDC) and Mobile World Congress (MWC) saw major announcements in virtual reality and new generation streaming game consoles, as well as further opening up of access to game engine software

Latest earnings reports show that major publishers and developers are currently in buoyant form as growth in the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One install base boosts revenue and consumers migrate to digital sales

Results for developers dependent on the mobile or online ecosystem are more mixed: King (producer of Candy Crush) continues to grow, but Zynga is struggling, although recent performance hints at a possible halt in its decline

  • Microsoft
  • Sony
Media, Technology 13 May 2015
Video streaming and news online

The UK is now entering a period of intense discussion of the regulation and ownership of news outlets. In this context it is revealing to look at a case study of news viewing online

Livestation is an online service which aggregates several dozen TV news channels and makes them available online. Two of the most prominent are Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya. These channels experienced explosive growth during the ‘Arab Spring’ events, and this was reflected in the statistics for access to their online streams, which we analyse here

In the course of these events, the live video streams for Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya went from 150,000 and 50,000 monthly uniques to 3.3m and 1.3m. Their audience online switched from a tiny base of largely expatriate viewers outside the Arab world to millions of viewers in the Arab world. Even after the most dramatic events subsided, traffic remains 10 times what it was in late 2010

Internet, TV, Media 27 September 2011
Video viewing forecasts to 2026

2016 was yet another year in which we saw big changes in the UK’s video consumption habits amongst the under-45s, with little let up in the decline of traditional broadcast linear TV viewing for the younger age groups

Online video-on-demand services will continue to grow, partly at the expense of traditional TV audiences. We also expect the overall volume of viewing to rise, mainly due to wider production of and access to short-form content

Despite these changes, conventional broadcasters look to be strong for years to come—we estimate they will still account for 80% of all video viewing in 2026

Media, TV, UK Media 23 March 2017
View from Mobile World Congress

Major European mobile operators were downbeat, with mobile revenue growth in Europe still massively underperforming the US, and their (misplaced in our view) anger at the OTT players being channelled into promoting new mobile OSs to compete with both Apple and Android

Samsung is cementing its dominance, while the other branded players focus on flagship models to try to cut through the noise. Meanwhile the flood of Android from Chinese OEM/ODMs is growing, at increasingly good quality. All other mobile platforms appear increasingly marginal

Superficially the handset industry appears to be stabilising around Apple, Android, and Samsung, plus the Chinese long tail. However, Apple, Google/Moto and perhaps Amazon may well all have disruptive moves planned for this year

  • Google
  • Apple
Mobile, Telecoms 8 March 2013
Virgin Media 50 Mbit/s broadband launch: product differentiation - at a price

On Monday 15th December, Virgin Media (VMed) announced the launch of its 50 Mbit/s ‘XXL’ broadband service, implemented over the existing cable network using the DOCSIS3 standard. This note looks at the details of the offer and the implications for VMed, other ISPs and the residential telecoms market as a whole

  • Virgin Media
Fixed Line, Telecoms 16 December 2008
Virgin Media calls for PL auction investigation

Virgin Media’s request for Ofcom to open a formal investigation into the auction mechanism of live televised Premier League rights is a timely reminder of the need to consider the consumer as the auction draws ever closer with all eyes focused on the battle of BT versus Sky

When the EC last intervened before the 2006 auction, its remedy focused on the need for more than one winner for the sake of a more competitive downstream market, but without considering other variables affecting the outcome, to which Virgin Media has drawn attention

As the European country with much the highest rights fees per game, much the fewest televised top league games, highest package prices and by far the biggest outlay on player wages, the current PL auction mechanism gives the UK consumer little cause for cheer

  • Virgin Media
  • Sky
  • BT
Fixed Line, Telecoms, TV, Media 5 October 2014
Virgin Media Investor Day 2010: pausing for breath

Virgin Media’s recent investor day served to emphasise the potential for further growth in cash flow, with Virgin Mobile, next generation TV and Business taking more prominent roles

The new TiVo service, launched on 1 December, is impressive, but will not be available throughout the cable footprint until Q3 2011 and is more likely to help maintain the company’s differentiated position, keeping churn low and subscriber growth positive, than generate a sudden revenue boost

Management’s residential ‘quad play’ strategy of selling higher end mobile contracts to cable customers looks sound, but handset subsidies mean that the benefits will not feed through until 2012

  • Virgin Media
Fixed Line, Mobile, Telecoms, Internet, TV, Media 9 December 2010

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