Publications

Format: Dec 2017
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Sector(s) Datesort descending
UK General Election online - news and advertising

In contrast to print coverage, most shared news and opinion content on social media was decidedly pro-Labour this election season, with fake news relatively non-existent compared to the US election in November

Facebook’s role in news distribution has steadily grown and now rivals Google’s, but only a half of the UK’s  electorate are active users – for the platform to become decisive in political news would require much stronger turnout among young voters

Facebook was the chief digital ad platform for both main parties, with Conservatives targeting Labour seats, Labour defending them and both adopting a negative tone

  • BBC
  • Facebook
  • Google
Internet, Media, Mobile, Technology, TV, UK Media 7 June 2017
US music publishing royalties for 2018-22

The “fair return” to US music publishers and songwriters for rights used by interactive streaming services will be decided in 2017 by the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB)

Rights owners want to switch to a fixed per-stream or per-user rate on all tiers, arguing music has an inherent value. Apple is asking for a much lower per-stream rate

Amazon, Google, Spotify and Pandora warn of disruption to free and ad-supported tiers if the revenue-share tariff is not rolled over, and the CRB could side with them

  • Amazon
  • Apple
  • Bertelsmann
  • Sony
  • Spotify
  • Vivendi
  • YouTube
Media, Music and Radio 8 June 2017
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

  • BT
  • Liberty Global
  • Ofcom
  • Sky
  • TalkTalk
  • Vice Media
Fixed Line, Internet, Media, Mobile, Technology, Telecoms, UK Media 9 June 2017
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

  • BT
  • Liberty Global
  • Sky
  • TalkTalk
  • Virgin Media
Fixed Line, Internet, Media, Mobile, Telecoms, TV, UK Media 19 June 2017
BBC Three: one year online

In February 2016, the BBC moved its youth-focused channel BBC Three out of the broadcast sphere and into an online-only delivery system, as part of plans intended to find an extra £100m in savings laid out in 2014

The new service would aim to continue fulfilling the channel’s remit of delivering innovative and diverse content to a key audience of 16-34s, but with greater emphasis on short-form and various more digitally focused formats

Now, more than a year on, the effort shows the difficulty traditional media brands have in adapting to space occupied by niches that primarily digital brands have carved out, although the ‘channel’ still manages largely to deliver on its remit with much of its original content 

  • BBC
Media, TV 20 June 2017
Vodafone Q4 2016/17 results: Solid results, better (short-term) outlook

Vodafone Europe’s mobile service revenue growth declined again to -1.0% from -0.6% in the previous quarter, but across the core top 4 markets it was essentially flat at -0.8%, and signs are encouraging for it improving next quarter

Contract subscriber share has (at last) stabilised across its top 4 markets, and continuing improvements in NPS suggest that Project Spring investments are finally being reflected in subscriber sentiment

The short-term outlook is positive with both subscriber growth and ARPU looking solid at worst. The longer-term results of market consolidation are the main threat, with powerful competitors potentially being created

  • Vodafone
Mobile, Telecoms, Vodafone 21 June 2017
How to sell games: borrowing ideas from Netflix and Apple

A Netflix-like subscription model for console based video gaming is a big step closer with Microsoft launching a clear and easy Xbox subscription game solution, and it may even work

Sony’s strategy for premium online services across all its businesses remains muddled and complicated, but could be fixed quickly: dropping game streaming is the first step, providing a lower cost subscription service is the second

Google’s admission that more curation in its games app store will be needed finally indicates a better understanding of the games industry, in parallel with the company’s efforts to win over other creative industries

  • Apple
  • Facebook
  • Google
  • Microsoft
  • Sony
Internet, Media, Mobile, Technology 21 June 2017
UK mobile market Q1 2017: EE leads the way

UK mobile service revenue growth continued to improve, with EE now the clear leader in service revenue growth terms. The rate of improvement has started to slow, but pricing remains solid and data traffic continues to grow healthily

EE’s performance was helped by robust subscriber growth but mainly driven by its very strong ARPU growth, which is in turn driven by ‘more-for-more’ pricing and a service/content tiered pricing model. Others are starting to follow this approach

The short/medium term outlook remains healthy, with the price increases made in Q2 likely to more than compensate for roaming cuts in the latter part of the year.  Looking further forward, the launch of 5G could be disruptive due to the introduction of copious extra spectral capacity, and therefore the results of the upcoming auction will be key for the sector post-2020

  • EE
  • Hutchison 3G
  • O2
  • Vodafone
Mobile, Telecoms 22 June 2017
The map is now the territory

We are in the midst of a rapid change in how maps are made and used, from a world of cartographers making records of physical features to sell to consumers and businesses, to one where information about the world is automatically tracked and measured, and built into every service we use

A whole host of industries traditionally unconcerned with geography are being and will be transformed by maps and location, from retail and advertising to finance and insurance. Every business needs to know what maps can offer them

A variety of maps suppliers are jostling for position in serving this growing need: local or international, free or commercial, seeing mapping as a core or side-business. Different suppliers suit different requirements

  • Apple
  • Google
Non-UK Media, Internet, Media, Mobile, Technology 26 June 2017
News publishers accelerate membership drive

In an immersive industry workshop in Turin celebrating La Stampa’s 150th anniversary, quality news publishers from around the world expressed a strong collective belief in membership, an editorial strategy supported by an emerging advertising opportunity

Editorial and service relevance was defined by widely varying publisher missions, categorised by a range of local and specialist use-cases, creating highly differentiated services for print, mobile and other delivery

A low-level hum in the discussions was a recognition that fundamental change in company culture – editorial and commercial as well as business operations – is a complex but urgent requirement for achieving a long-term sustainable news service

  • BBC
  • New York Times
  • News Corp
Media 26 June 2017
Tinder and online dating: who's paying?

Tinder is one of the most high-profile mobile apps on the market and has transformed the adoption of online dating

Tinder’s success is due in large part to its understanding of user experience, which is key to getting, keeping and upselling users through network effects

But the financial value of this success is limited by the industry: even a mobile revolution has not created a high-revenue mass market where none existed before 

  • Guardian Media Group
Internet, Media, Mobile, Technology 27 June 2017
Cometh the hour for the commercial PSBs

The first half of 2017 has seen the announced departure of three CEOs from the commercial PSBs within the space of less than two months: David Abraham of Channel 4 (14th March), Rob Woodward of STV (25th April) and lastly Adam Crozier of ITV (3rd May)

Responding to the challenges of digital switchover and the advertising recession of 2008/09, as well as their own specific company issues, one of the first tasks for all three CEOs has been to raise staff morale

The last seven to ten years may have been taxing at times. The next seven to ten promise to be no easier, and may yet be harder, as the successor CEOs chart their way through the continuing transformation of the UK digital landscape

  • Channel 4
  • ITV
Media, TV 28 June 2017
European mobile in Q1 2017: Stuck at zero

European mobile service revenue growth remained stuck at zero in Q1, with a heightened impact from the mobile termination rate cuts in Germany and price promotional activity in southern Europe mitigating improving markets in the UK and France

‘More-for-more’ price rises continued both during the quarter and after, and appear to be more widespread than the 2016 increases. This should be driving revenue growth at a healthier rate than zero, and may well do as out-of-bundle revenue declines fade away in significance and regulated MTR and roaming cuts annualise out

On the downside, there remain clear disruptive threats from consolidation in Italy, the potential for improved non-incumbent competitor performance in Germany and Spain, and the potential for further consolidation, with its distinctly mixed blessings for competitors, in the UK and France

  • EE
  • France Telecom
  • Hutchison 3G
  • Iliad
  • O2
  • Orange
  • SFR
  • T-Mobile
  • Telecom Italia
  • Telefonica
  • Vimplecom
  • Vodafone
Non-UK Telecoms, Mobile, Telecoms, Vodafone 28 June 2017
End-game for the merger of 21CF and Sky

Secretary of State (SoS) Karen Bradley has made an initial decision to refer 21CF’s bid for Sky to the Competition Markets Authority (CMA) for a detailed consideration of media plurality concerns, to be finalised in the near future

The issue at hand is the potential increase in the influence of the members of the Murdoch Family Trust (MFT) over the UK’s news agenda and political process. The SoS rejected the remedy for Sky News brokered by Ofcom

Ofcom’s non-negative decision on the fitness and propriety of 21CF to hold Sky’s broadcast licences cleared another hurdle in the event the merger is finally accepted

  • 21st Century Fox
  • News Corp
  • News UK
  • Ofcom
  • Sky
  • Sky Deutschland
  • Sky Italia
Media, Technology, Telecoms, TV 30 June 2017
Retransmission fees back on the burner

The debate over the entitlement of free-to-air PSBs to retransmission fees from pay-TV platforms has simmered for the last few years, yet promises to boil over once the Digital Economy Act 2017 (DEA 2017) comes into force; as expected in late July/early August

The repeal of section 73 of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 (CDPA 1988) has removed a barrier to negotiations between the PSBs and the cable operator Virgin Media over retransmission fees, seen by some as the thin end of a wedge for obtaining such fees across all pay-TV platforms

However, pressing for retransmission fees could have the opposite effect of what the PSBs – in particular the commercial PSBs – wish for, threatening as it does to undermine the principles of universality and free access at the point of use, so long the bedrock of public service broadcasting in the UK

  • BBC
  • Channel 4
  • ITV
  • Sky
  • Virgin Media
Media, TV 6 July 2017
European scripted content: rising demand and consolidation

The US scripted content boom is spilling over into Europe: Free-to-air TV drama ratings have proven resilient but as costs and audience expectations have risen budgets are under pressure, necessitating flexible co-financing arrangements with American broadcasters, and Netflix and Amazon. Pay channels have boosted output—with uneven results

Long-term IP control is a key factor behind independent production consolidation, led by broadcasters seeking a secure stream of content and diversification away from advertising

Notable developments include the new wave of Berlin-based, internationally-financed series, the rise of domestic French content and Sky Italia’s edgy originals, Telefónica’s giant leap into Spanish dramas, and the continuation of Britain as an export powerhouse

  • 21st Century Fox
  • Amazon
  • BBC
  • Canal Plus
  • Channel 4
  • ITV
  • NBC Universal
  • Netflix
  • Orange
  • Prosieben
  • RTL
  • SFR
  • Sky
  • Sky Deutschland
  • Sky Italia
  • Telefonica
  • TF1
  • Vivendi
Non-UK Media, Media, TV 11 July 2017
SME marketing: a local and global battleground

Accelerating print advertising declines in 2016 are placing pressure on local newspaper publishers to deliver faster online growth

However, digital growth is being supported yet compressed by Google and Facebook; we estimate SME expenditure on Google is roughly 2x the local press, and we expect SME spend with Facebook to match local newspaper advertising revenues in two to three years

Publishers need to grow consumer registrations and subscriptions, digital display and also digital marketing services, in partnerships with the tech giants – but first they have to convince consumers they have relevant use-cases that global platforms cannot replicate

  • Facebook
  • Google
  • Johnston Press
  • Local World
  • Trinity Mirror
Internet, Media 18 July 2017
TalkTalk Group Q1 2017/18 results: Still growing the base

TalkTalk sustained positive broadband net adds in the June quarter, adding 20k to its base, largely driven by reduced churn, which was largely driven by re-contracting a large proportion of existing customers onto its new cheaper bundles

Unfortunately, this had a negative effect on revenue growth, with Group revenue growth (ex-carrier) dropping to -3.2%, as the new cheaper bundle adoption diluted ARPU, but the company remains confident that revenue growth will turn positive for the full financial year as the ARPU dilution effect annualises out

The company recently announced a price rise due in August of around 5-6% for customers not on its new cheaper bundles (around 38% of its total broadband base), which will help with the ARPU turnaround, but may make maintaining positive broadband net adds more challenging

  • TalkTalk
Fixed Line, Media, Mobile, Telecoms, TV, UK Media 21 July 2017
Channel 4 set for the future: 2016 annual report

2016 has seen Channel 4 break new records in growing revenues and investing in content origination, whilst making further progress in delivering its remit and maintaining audience share for its main channel

However, the second half of 2016 and early months of this year promise a significantly tougher 2017 as the economic and TV advertising climate has worsened and the future is clouded with uncertainties

Channel 4 nonetheless starts from a relatively strong position financially and we expect it to be well capable of sustaining its remit under the leadership of its new CEO Alex Mahon, though much hinges on the outcome of the Government consultation on relocation 

  • Channel 4
Media, TV 24 July 2017
European subscription and pay-TV monitor

Across Europe, markets are becoming more competitive. Incumbent pay-TV paltforms (e.g. Sky or Canal+) face increasing threats from both internet-based services (e.g. Netflix and Amazon), and telecoms operators

Telecoms providers are proving the most potent challengers as they enter the premium football rights market to create attractive triple and quad play bundles – examples include BT, SFR and Telefónica. The latter is now the main pay-TV operator in Spain whereas France’s Canal+ has entered into a strategic alliance with Orange

Across the top five markets (UK, France, Germany, Spain, and Italy), Sky remains the leading operator with an estimated 21.5m video subscribers, twice as many as Netflix

 

  • Amazon
  • BT
  • Canal Plus
  • Liberty Global
  • Netflix
  • Orange
  • Prosieben
  • SFR
  • Sky
  • Sky Deutschland
  • Sky Italia
  • Telecom Italia
  • Telefonica
  • Virgin Media
  • Vivendi
  • Vodafone
Non-UK Media, Non-UK Telecoms, Media, Telecoms, TV 25 July 2017

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