Publications

Format: Aug 2018
sort ascending Sector(s) Date
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

  • ITV
  • Sky
Media, TV 15 March 2017
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.

  • Sky
Media, TV, Telecoms, Fixed Line 26 February 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

  • ITV
  • Sky
Media, TV, UK Media 16 September 2016
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
Fixed Line, Telecoms, TV, Media 18 December 2013
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
Fixed Line, Telecoms, TV, Media 12 November 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

  • ITV
  • Sky
Media, Telecoms, TV, UK Media 30 June 2015
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

Fixed Line, Telecoms, TV, Media 14 May 2013
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
Fixed Line, Telecoms, TV, Media 3 October 2013
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:

Telecoms 21 June 2001
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

Telecoms, Fixed Line 11 March 2008
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

Telecoms, Fixed Line 11 February 2009
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
Fixed Line, Telecoms 22 January 2010
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

Fixed Line, Telecoms 14 May 2012
BT Q4 2017/18 results: Slowing broadband bites, but recovery possible

BT Group met expectations for the 2017/18 financial year, but future guidance is very modest compared to previous performance and financial market expectations, with 2018/19 revenue and EBITDA both guided to decline by around 2% with capex rising

In our view, this weakened outlook is primarily driven by the ongoing slowdown and increasing competitiveness of the UK broadband market, with operating metrics at BT Consumer particularly weak

BT’s re-vamped strategy looks good in parts, and could deliver the incremental improvements necessary to outperform the new (much more modest) expectations, helped by existing – and likely continued – strength in mobile

  • EE
Fixed Line, Media, Mobile, Telecoms, UK Media 15 May 2018
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

  • EE
  • BT
Fixed Line, Internet, Media, Mobile, Technology, Telecoms, UK Media 9 June 2017
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

  • EE
Fixed Line, Telecoms 13 May 2016
BT Q4 2014/15 results: Revenue a bit weak, fibre great

BT had a somewhat mixed March quarter, with growth in consumer still strong but weaker than before, growth in UK corporate weak and even weaker than before, but fibre growth re-accelerating and cost-cutting very strong

The company is still well on track, with 2015/16 revenue guidance reflecting fibre-driven consumer growth countered by UK corporate weakness, and EBITDA guidance reflecting strong cost-cutting partially mitigated by extra football rights costs

Operationally the next few months will likely be dominated by the launch of BT’s Champions League coverage and associated marketing, with various regulatory processes keeping the company busy at the strategic level

Fixed Line, Telecoms 19 May 2015
BT Q4 2013/14 results: Impressive revenue, Sport holds back profit

BT had a solid Q4, with a continuing improvement in BT Consumer metrics and revenue growth the highlight, mitigated by weaknesses at BT Business and Wholesale

Overall Group revenue growth was positive again at 1%, and EBITDA growth of 2% would have been much higher had it not been for the impact of BT Sport

Despite revenue growth now being firmly positive, BT has only nudged up its guidance for 2014/15 and 2015/16, with the costs of BT Sport broadly counteracting progress with cost cutting

Fixed Line, Telecoms 13 May 2014
BT Q4 2012/13 results: Revenue very strong, costs to be hit by Sport

BT’s underlying revenue growth improved from -3% last quarter to around zero at both the Retail and Group level, its best performance for years, with high speed broadband helping to stabilise ARPU

BT Sport is positioned well as a defensive/win-back product against broadband losses to Sky, but BT’s ability to win triple play subscriptions off Sky is still hampered by lack of content, and the cost appears disproportionate to its aims

Fibre adoption continued to accelerate, with some important upcoming regulatory decisions the only potential barrier to fibre giving BT a very strong boost over the next few years

Telecoms, Fixed Line 14 May 2013
BT Q4 2010/11 results: guidance met but fundamental outlook unexciting

BT met its full year guidance for the second year running, but new guidance reflects the weak revenue outlook and limited potential for further cost reduction

Group performance continues to hinge on capex levels, in particular deployment of next generation access, scheduled to continue until 2015

BT is not a financial basket case doomed to be eaten alive by mobile, satellite, cable or internet-based alternatives. But nor does it look like a huge growth story

Fixed Line, Telecoms 15 May 2011

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