Publications

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Sector(s) Datesort ascending
Orange possible U-turn on pay-TV and Canal+

France Télécom’s forthcoming Chief Executive Officer, Stéphane Richard, is considering a radical shake up and potential U-turn of Orange’s TV ‘content’ strategy, initiated and driven by CEO Didier Lombard

Orange could withdraw entirely from supplying premium pay-TV channels (sports and film) and distribute only third party content, as has been the focus of other broadband suppliers

A retreat of Orange from TV content would enable a more active cooperation with the Canal+ Group, benefiting both partners, who have largely overlapping subscriber bases

  • Orange
  • France Telecom
  • Canal Plus
Media, TV, Non-UK Media, Telecoms 28 January 2010
Spotify and ad-supported music models

Spotify is among the leading providers of legal online music streaming services in major European markets such as the UK, France and Spain. Entry to the US is rumoured and would make sense to establish the brand as a global one

As this report details, the commercial viability of the ad-supported ‘free’ service in a market that is five times the size of the UK will depend crucially on the royalty structures agreed by licensors, including recorded music companies and publishers

Media, Music and Radio, Non-UK Media 27 January 2010
Court of Appeal verdict on Sky stake in ITV

The Court of Appeal’s (CA) dismissal of Sky’s second attempt to overturn the Competition Commission’s (CC) decision that it must reduce its 17.9% shareholding in ITV to below 7.5% makes it increasingly probable that Sky will comply with the CC ruling at some point during 2010/2011

Although the CA’s dismissal of Sky’s appeal has always seemed the likely, even if never certain, outcome, the extra time consumed has so far benefited Sky greatly as the ITV share price has recovered from a low of below 20p in March 2009 to around 60p in January 2010

Sky’s share purchase was seen by ITV and others as unwanted interference in ITV’s affairs, but there was no suggestion of interference during the whole period of review by the competition and judicial authorities, while the outcome suggests that any future interest shown by other leading UK TV media players will probably also raise tough competition issues

  • Sky
  • ITV
Media, TV 25 January 2010
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
  • BT
Fixed Line, Telecoms 22 January 2010
Ofcom airtime rules review and CRR clash

Ofcom’s plan to review commercial airtime rules in 2010 with an emphasis on deregulation clashes with the Competition Commission’s provisional decision to retain the Contract Rights Renewal remedy (CRR) as it is, other than to extend the ITV1 definition to include staggercast and HD variants

The core issue is that it is impossible to address UK commercial airtime rules in isolation from CRR, which strongly motivates all parties to sell 100% of their commercial airtime inventories, and is seen by many as exerting a strong deflationary pressure on TV advertising spend

Even without CRR, the Ofcom aim of being in a position to effect change from the start of 2011 looks optimistic. Increasingly, it seems that meaningful relaxation of the existing rules will require primary legislation in order to circumvent the continuing competition issues that have led to CRR

  • ITV
Media, TV 21 January 2010
Carphone Warehouse trading update: clearer water

At TalkTalk Group (TTG) net broadband additions were solid, possibly helped by stronger growth in total market demand; but churn at Tiscali UK appears to remain high

TTG revenue was heavily distorted by the Tiscali acquisition but appears to remain in gradual decline on a like-for-like basis, due to continuing decline in non-broadband customers

Carphone Warehouse’s like-for-like distribution revenue showed a firm pick-up in the quarter, with it likely enjoying the first quarter of significantly improving market growth since the recession started

  • TalkTalk
  • Carphone Warehouse
Telecoms, Fixed Line 20 January 2010
UK TV advertising outlook 2010

December 2009 showed exceptional year-on-year growth of around 10% in TV NAR (Net Advertising Revenue), causing the year to end down -11%/12% according to market estimates, which as recently as August were contemplating a decline of -15% or below

The December spike reflects various causes, including robust retail conditions in the last days of reduced VAT at 15%, strong likelihood of marketers releasing budgets held back earlier in the year due to uncertainties over the economy and record-breaking audiences for The X Factor

TV NAR in Q1 2010 is shaping to be up by 1% or 2% on Q1 2009, but cyclical economic, structural and other one-off considerations have caused us to put our central case TV NAR forecast for 2010 at -2.5% down on 2009, with a further fall of -2.5% anticipated in 2011 before recovery starts in 2012

Media, TV 19 January 2010
O2 announces home phone offers

O2’s plan to launch competitively-priced ‘home phone’ offers in March should help sustain its current growth in fixed broadband, but is unlikely on its own to transform O2 into a significant player in UK fixed telecoms

The company’s fixed line foray is unlikely to reduce its mobile churn significantly, but nor does it look likely to increase it, with any residual net effect muted by the relatively small scale of O2’s fixed business

Demand for residential fixed telephony is declining gradually, and O2’s play is likely to make life more difficult for some established players, notably TTG, which is relatively dependent on demand from more price-sensitive customers

  • TalkTalk
  • O2
Telecoms, Mobile, Fixed Line 18 January 2010
Nexus One: the Googlephone arises

Google this week launched the Nexus One, a high spec handset equipped with the latest Android software, customised by Google, branded with Google and sold exclusively through Google (but made by HTC)

In contrast to its usual cooperative self as regards mobile, the Google go-it-alone approach of the Nexus One is likely to irritate handset manufacturers, handset distributers and mobile operators alike

The very limited distribution and limited marketing is likely to limit Nexus One sales, despite the strong hardware and software. The prospects for the Android platform in general remain strong, particularly in mid-range handsets, especially if Google maintains a more cooperative approach than the Nexus One launch has signified

  • Google
Mobile, Telecoms 7 January 2010
Canvas gets BBC Trust provisional approval

The BBC Trust has given its provisional approval to the BBC Executive’s proposals for Project Canvas, the JV between the BBC and five partners that aims to enable DTT homes with broadband connections to access IPTV content on their TV sets

Canvas promises to enrich greatly the DTT platform; however, it is likely to encounter fierce opposition during the coming consultation from equipment manufacturers and the pay-TV platform operators, Sky and Virgin Media, especially in relation to its attempts to prescribe the user experience (UX)

We think that the BBC Trust will give its final approval, subject to the conditions specified in its provisional statement, but further delays seem likely and we do not expect Canvas devices to appear in the shops before 2011

  • BBC
TV, Media, Internet 23 December 2009
Update on KPN’s fibre roll-out

In The Netherlands, KPN faces strong competitive pressure on voice and broadband from cable operators historically addressing subscription TV services due to their superior fibre/coax networks – KPN needs to upgrade its ADSL network to increase IPTV coverage and bandwidth to compete effectively on the triple play

KPN is pursuing a multi-technology approach to its network upgrade, deploying VDSL over the existing copper access network as a ‘transitional’ solution, accompanied by deployment of FTTC and FTTH. Currently, 13% of Dutch homes are passed by fibre, with KPN setting a ‘medium term’ coverage target of 30-60% of households

KPN says that FTTC and FTTH trial results show material increases in ARPU and market share, supporting the case for deployment. KPN is assuming entirely the costs of FTTC, but the investment in more expensive FTTH is being made by joint venture KPN-Reggefiber, whose need for finance in mid-2010 will require it to convince debt markets of its business plan for FTTH

Telecoms, Fixed Line, Non-UK Telecoms 22 December 2009
UK TV Anytime and the flexilinear future

This report sets out our thinking on the audience growth potential in the UK during the next decade of video on demand (VOD) programming that viewers can call up via interactive return pathways. VOD may be delivered by cable TV transmission networks directly to the TV set or by wireline broadband IP (Internet Protocol) networks directly to the PC and to the TV in homes equipped with the necessary receiving equipment

The question being asked by many is whether VOD will provide a paradigm shift that sees the decline of linear broadcast channel audiences in favour of non-linear on demand viewing in a TV Anytime future, where people can choose what they want to watch at whatever time they want

After reviewing the evidence from a growing body of research into viewing habits and audience measurement and examining the commercial constraints, we conclude that the traditional linear broadcast model will continue to hold centre stage for many years to come

Media, TV, Internet 18 December 2009
Orange TV premium content strategy

France Télécom’s Orange TV premium strategy presents an interesting example of diversification into low cost ‘light’ pay-TV offers by an incumbent telecoms operator. Orange Sport and Orange Cinéma Séries are offered exclusively to Orange's 2.55 million TV subscribers, and five quarters after launch, adoption is 20%. This report draws several lessons on this type of venture for other incumbent operators

  • Orange
  • France Telecom
Non-UK Telecoms, Fixed Line, Telecoms 11 December 2009
Independently funded news consortia (IFNCs)

This report examines Ofcom's proposal that independently funded news consortia (IFNCs) assume the provision of regional TV news, occupying the regional news time slots vacated by the Channel 3 licensees

IFNCs are to be composed of commercial news organisations (television producers, newspaper groups, radio stations or websites), and will operate as private commercial/publicly funded hybrid models of regional news gathering and provision, alongside the BBC and commercial news organisations

DCMS has invited tenders for three IFNC pilots covering Channel 3 regions in Northern England and the Borders, Scotland and Wales, to be awarded in May 2010 with operations to commence by summer 2010.

 

 

 

  • ITV
Media, TV 4 December 2009
Carphone Warehouse Group interim results to September 2009: forging ahead

Fixed line revenue growth continued to decline excluding the impact of Tiscali UK, but at a manageable rate, and profitability continued to improve strongly. TalkTalk Group is performing well in the run-up to demerger, and management is sounding very confident. But there are some clouds on the horizon, not least the relaunch of Tesco Telecom

Sky+ HD is now manifestly the centre point of a three-pronged operational strategy that focuses on driving customer growth, selling more products into the customer base and seeking efficiencies in fixed costs

Sky 3D, due for residential launch in H2 2010, fits in well with the core Sky+ HD proposition and the satellite operator looks well placed to combat growing retail competition from other platforms, assuming Ofcom implements its wholesale pay-TV proposals for Sky premium subscription films and sports some time in spring 2010

  • Carphone Warehouse
Media 30 November 2009
Mobile revenue growth and outlook Q2 2009: a nadir is finally reached

Overall revenue growth in the top five markets dipped yet again in the September quarter, to -3.5% from -2.0% in the previous quarter

However, the good news is that this particular dip was entirely due to the regulatory-induced effect of accelerated termination rate cuts, caused by the reintroduction of cuts in the UK and France. Underlying growth was -0.7%, which was flat on the previous quarter

This is the first time that underlying growth has not dropped since March 2008 –when underlying growth was at a much healthier 5.3%, a full 6 percentage points better

 

Telecoms, Mobile, Non-UK Telecoms 30 November 2009
UK Residential Broadband Market

Annual market growth is dropping in line with our predictions over the past two years, despite some significant quarterly blips.We continue to project growth in 2009 to be significant, but much lower than in the past, with net additions of 1 million

We expect annual net additions in 2010 to drop by another 20% to 800,000 as the market becomes ever more saturated

We project 19.8 million broadband households by 2014 and have slightly increased our projections from 2010 to take into account the likely impact of higher growth in the number of households as recently predicted by the Office for National Statistics (ONS)

  • Virgin Media
  • BT
Telecoms, Fixed Line 24 November 2009
BT FY 2009-10 Q2 results: more progress on cost reduction

BT’s Q2 results, and improved guidance for the year to March 2010 provided further encouraging evidence of the new management team’s ability to take cost out of the business

However, the group is in a phase of revenue decline, primarily due to recession, but also strong competition

We continue to view limited deployment of next generation access as a worthwhile defensive move, but remain sceptical regarding the potential for uplift to shareholder value

  • BT
Telecoms, Fixed Line 16 November 2009
The future progress of Ofcom's pay-TV review

Three years into its pay-TV investigation, we expect Ofcom to impose a wholesale must-offer obligation with regulated prices on the Sky premium films and sports channels in its final statement scheduled for Q1 2010

The WMO could take effect by the middle of 2010. It appears unlikely that Sky will be granted a stay of implementation whilst its appeals against the lawfulness and substance of the WMO remedy are being heard

Assuming the WMO proceeds, its impact on the pay-TV market is likely to be small in the first three to five years, but could become significant in the long-term; the core issue throughout being the rate-card prices set by the regulator, Ofcom

  • Sky
Media, TV 16 November 2009
Broadband, IPTV and Fibre in France

This report on the French broadband market examines growth trends in 2009 and forecasts to 2012, updates our previous assessments of the commercial significance of IPTV in the triple play (a bundle of broadband, telephony and TV), and details the state of fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) deployment

Shrugging off the recession (milder and shorter than in the UK), the French broadband market is set to reach 19.6 million connections by the end of 2009, up 1.9 million on 2008 – only 12% less than the level of net adds of 2008. With 2009 better than we expected, we now anticipate a sharper slowdown in net adds in 2010, with 1.4 million net adds projected. We still expect the total to reach 22.8 million connections by 2012 (70% household penetration)

  • SFR
  • Orange
  • Iliad
Non-UK Telecoms, Fixed Line, Telecoms 13 November 2009

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