Format: Mar 2018
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Sector(s) Datesort ascending
The bigger picture: Sky fiscal Q4 2010 results

Strong FY 2010 adjusted revenue growth of 11% was powered by a 15% rise in subscription revenues, reflecting a mixture of solid subscriber growth in spite of the recession and burgeoning multi-product sales, with HD subscriptions registering a net increase of 1.63 million to end the year at 2.94 million and the telecoms sector breaking into operating profit in Q4

Firm cost control and streamlining of manufacturing and subscriber management expenses now make Sky’s 25% TV operating margin target look very achievable, but also leave it room to increase spend on programming substantially within the guidance limits of pegging increases to the rate of revenue growth

Overshadowing the results is News Corp’s proposal to purchase the 60.9% of BSkyB shares that it does not already own, subject to regulatory review. Assuming it goes ahead, News Corp will have a larger market share in the UK across media (TV, newspapers and books) than any other company in a major market

  • News Corp
  • Sky
Media, TV 3 August 2010
BT Q1 2010/11 results: strong cost control, but impact of government spending review remains uncertain

BT continues to improve its performance through cost reduction, with Global Services continuing to lead the way

Although a strike appears to have been averted, the next few quarters will be tougher due to increased EBITDA ‘re-investment’

Management is sticking to guidance which is, like the government, conservative in nature. Nonetheless, in our view, the forthcoming government spending review could still prove challenging

  • BT
Telecoms, Fixed Line 2 August 2010
TTG Q1 2010/11 trading update: holding firm

TalkTalk Group (TTG) reported revenue growth for the quarter to June was flattered by the Tiscali acquisition, but broadband net additions were reasonable given the protracted integration process and temporary absence from TV schedules of the X-Factor

An MVNO could prove challenging in terms of generating a significant direct impact on financial performance, but might help defend against other low price players, notably O2 and Tesco

Increasing demand for pay-TV, stimulated by Sky, VMed and now BT Retail, could potentially leave TTG exposed. Our current view is that there remains sufficient demand for ‘extended’ free-to-air TV for this not to be a major issue

  • TalkTalk
Telecoms, Fixed Line 1 August 2010
Virgin Media Q2 2010 results: real top line strength

Virgin Media’s Q2 results showed real strength in the top line, with continuing growth in cable revenue due to increases in both price and volume compounded by long-awaited growth in revenue from mobile and B2B, although overall performance was compromised to an extent by higher costs

The sale of VMtv to Sky cements a de facto pay TV duopoly by clarifying the distinctive wholesale and retail roles of the two leading players, against which others will find it hard to compete

The outlook continues to look encouraging despite the economic environment and this is reflected in management’s plan to return £700 million of capital, a historic milestone in the history of UK cable

  • Sky
  • Virgin Media
Media, TV, Telecoms, Fixed Line 28 July 2010
Apple, Amazon and digital reading

The ebook market has broken out of its niche. Just 3% of the US consumer books market in 2009, ebooks are on track to hit 10% this year, with the UK following close behind. With global consumer books a $120 billion industry, disruption will have dramatic consequences

Amazon has sold perhaps 3-5m Kindles in 33 months – Apple sold 3m iPads in the first three months and 3m of the iPhone 4 in the first three weeks. Amazon might look as though it is on the back foot, but as this week’s £109 Kindle shows, the game isn’t over yet

We expect the ebook market to splinter, with tablets, ereaders and smartphones all playing important parts for different genres and demographics. This makes control of the Kindle platform a key advantage for Amazon

  • Apple
Media 28 July 2010
Carphone Warehouse June quarter results: steady in Europe, strong in US

CPW saw growing revenue but falling volume in its core European handset retail business, as contract handset growth outperformed prepay

We believe that this is in line with a slightly subdued market, with consumer confidence quite weak across a number of European countries

CPW’s US business did much better, growing at 30%, and it is this strength that leaves us confident in the group’s ability to have a strong full year

  • Carphone Warehouse
Telecoms, Mobile, Non-UK Telecoms 27 July 2010
Smartphones and antennagate

The Apple ‘antennagate scandal’ has received massive press attention, reflecting perhaps more the extent of Apple’s smartphone incumbency than the extent of the reception issues with the iPhone 4

The problem may be greater than Apple publicly admits to, but it is less than it first appeared to be. The resulting consumer confusion will not help unit sales, but we still expect them to grow, supported by a number of feature set advances in the iPhone 4

Android handset sales are growing very rapidly, and are in a sense ‘catching up’ with the iPhone; while Android may end up dominating the mid-range, the iPhone can still enjoy an (enlarged) position at the top end, provided it can maintain a premium price justification

  • Apple
  • Google
Telecoms, Mobile 25 July 2010
Sky and VMtv and Five: competition questions

The transaction size means that the OFT was obliged to examine BSkyB’s purchase of the VMtv channels. The transaction will probably be approved because of the small impact on Sky’s share of NAR (Net Advertising Revenue), which will rise from around 14% to 16%

The more pressing competition concern, which has attracted little attention, is Sky’s growing market power in the determination of carriage fee payments. Nevertheless the lack of companies actively prepared to complain to the OFT probably means that the transaction will go through without a murmur

Separately, the likely purchase of Five by Richard Desmond raises regulatory issues to do with the possible reduction of media ‘plurality’. The Sky/VMtv transaction and Channel 4’s taking over UKTV advertising sales also places Five Sales in a significantly weaker position, but any attempts to join with one of the big three sales groups (ITV, Channel 4 or Sky) may well be rejected by the competition regulators

  • Five
  • Sky
  • Virgin Media
Media, TV 22 July 2010
Vodafone June quarter 2010 results: confidence issues

Vodafone Europe’s revenue growth again notched up, increasing by 0.7ppts as reported or 0.3ppts in underlying terms, with minutes volume growth accelerating by 1.8ppts

This is a little disappointing in the context of the rate of reported GDP recovery, but consumer confidence, particularly in Southern Europe, has re-dipped in the last few months, making raw GDP figures less relevant than they once were

Data revenue is forging ahead, but voice pricing is steadily weakening, and with many offers linking voice, text and data into an inseparable bundle the former may be causing the later, implying that data’s contribution to overall revenue is easy to overestimate


  • Vodafone
Telecoms, Mobile, Non-UK Telecoms 22 July 2010
Mobile user survey 2010 - the rise and rise of smartphones

UK reported mobile subscriber growth has returned to stronger growth over the past few quarters as the UK economy slowly recovers

O2 is still the leading operator in terms of both its own customer loyalty and share of other operators’ customers who intend to switch, though its lead has narrowed considerably on last year

UK handset sales are likely to continue to rise, with intention to replace in the next 12 months rising from 32% in 2009 to 35% in 2010, which is albeit still some way short of the 40% pre-recession figure

Data usage overall is up –the proportion of consumers regularly browsing news and information increased to 22% from 16% last year. However, this increase was not uniform; 5ppts of this was the direct result of there being more iPhones and BlackBerrys in use, and only 1ppt was due to increased usage on any other handset

  • Apple
  • O2
Telecoms, Mobile 18 July 2010
Spanish free-to-air TV rebounds

Spain’s free-to-air (FTA) television advertising recovery may stall in H2 2010, but growth at Telecinco and Antena3 will remain vigorous due to the end of airtime sales on state-owned Televisión Española (TVE)

The two broadcasters have a strong, resilient model, with a high share of cheap, in-house programming, improved pricing power due to consolidation and large multichannel capacity on the digital terrestrial television (DTT) platform (analogue was switched off in April)

Telecinco will leverage its merger with Cuatro (due by end 2010) for economies of scale, but the benefit of its investment in pay-TV platform Digital+ is uncertain. Further consolidation involving laSexta is expected


Media, TV, Non-UK Media 15 July 2010
Orange sets exit strategy from premium TV

FT has put majority stakes in Orange Sport and Orange Cinéma Séries on the block, and claims to have held discussions with News Corp. We think it unlikely that an investor would be interested in entering the French pay-TV market, dominated by Vivendi’s Canal+

We believe FT could find a buyer for Orange Sport in Disney’s ESPN, which could prove viable if a cross-retailing deal is reached with Canal+. A Eurosport merger is another option. Orange Cinéma Séries could be viable under a new owner, if it widens it distribution to other platforms

Now officially on the way out of the pay-TV production business, a welcome decision in our view, Orange can focus on improving the consumer value of the basic TV offering on the triple play marketplace


  • Canal Plus
  • France Telecom
  • News Corp
  • Orange
Media, TV, Non-UK Media 7 July 2010
Magazine sector update: tough times

UK consumer magazines continue to be squeezed by every consumption, technology and market trend, yet we believe the sector, while rebasing in scale, continues to offer unique attributes as a media experience for consumers and marketers

Circulations are falling, and in the context of digital media usage leading titles in each magazine genre are not just typically gaining market share, but emerging as the only ‘must have’ brand for consumers and advertisers

Publishers with multiple titles in mid-table positions may be able to draw short-term margin from some of them, but long-term investment plays increasingly need to be at the top of the pile

  • BBC
Media 7 July 2010
Sky Sports on BT Vision: an expensive defence

BT’s launch of Sky Sports should help reduce customer churn to Sky and other competitors, although we expect the extent of ‘win back’ to be modest

The financial impact on BT should be positive but of limited significance at group level due to the negative margin involved on the Sky Sports element of the bundle

Sky is likely to deploy a number of countermeasures that may negate some of the benefits to BT

  • BT
  • Sky
Media, TV 5 July 2010
Times launches online subscription

On 2 July News International switched Times online from a free to a subscription service, probably losing at least 90% of its traffic and shifting its strategy from reach and scale to a more traditional targeted brand and loyalty model

The challenges are substantial: while the Times is competitively advantaged with a strong roster of star writers and columnists, NI knows news itself is more commoditised than other content types, and most newspaper and broadcaster sites have been giving away news for a decade

News Corp may well realise the most benefits from the Times subscription service in a larger convergence play, aggregating audiences across group services such as Sky pay-TV and broadband, Sky News and the Wall Street Journal


  • News Corp
  • Sky
Media, Internet 4 July 2010
UK broadband and telephony: annual revenue trends

Data on UK fixed line broadband revenueis sparse. Ofcom‘squarterly statistics do not include broadband revenue and neither Virgin Media nor TTG report it. Ofcom’sannual communications market report, published each year in August, includes an estimate of UK fixed broadband, dial-up and related revenue based on non-public data provided by operators. In June this year Ofcom published a provisional estimate of £3.3 billion for 2009 as part of the background to a discussion document on net neutrality

Fixed Line, Telecoms 30 June 2010
News Corp’s bid for BSkyB: not just a matter of price

News Corp’s bid for the shares it does not own in BSkyB is unlikely to generate much concern at the OFT because newspapers and TV will be seen as being in separate markets

But, separately, the Secretary of State for Business, Vince Cable, is entitled to make a ‘public interest’ intervention that requires the plurality issue to be assessed alongside the competition investigation over the next few weeks

We think that there is a strong case that the transaction does raise substantial issues of ‘plurality’ as defined in the Court of Appeal judgment on the purchase of ITV shares by BSkyB in 2006.1 Whether the new Secretary of State has the stomach for a fight with the company must be open to substantial doubt

  • Sky
  • News Corp
Media, TV 21 June 2010
Recorded music and music publishing

This report provides our annual assessment and forecasts for the recorded music market on the one hand, and the music publishing industry on the other hand. The reason for our dual focus is the key role played by mechanical revenues generated by the sale of recorded music formats in revenues of the music publishing industry, despite their decline since 2000

Revenues from performance (licensing fees from the use of music in broadcasts, music piped in shops or performed live) and synchronisation (music licensed for adverts and TV/film) have proved more resilient. Performance in particular was affected by the severe advertising recession in the music publishing industry’s core markets in 2008/09, whose impact we anticipate will still be felt in 2010

On the whole, however, music publishing revenues should recover and stabilise in our forecast period to 2014.

Non-UK Media, Music and Radio, Media 16 June 2010
Google searches for TV future

Launching in the US this autumn, with international rollout due in 2011, Google TV uses enhanced versions of the Android mobile OS and Chrome browser to deliver full access to the internet via ‘Smart TV’ sets and devices

Google TV extends the company’s vision of the open internet to the living room, beyond the PC and mobile, where internet-enabled TV sets will take increasing share, raising search revenues, with potential to take a piece of the $150 billion global TV ad market

Pay TV platform operators’ are unlikely to embrace Google TV to avoid cannibalising their own business models, limiting adoption to free-to-air TV homes, at least initially, and direct revenues are likely to be slow to develop


  • Google
Media, TV, Internet 15 June 2010
European mobile market analysis to March 2010

Overall reported revenue growth in the top 5 European markets increased by 1.6ppts, to growth of -1.7%. With little change in regulation during the quarter, underlying growth also saw a sharp uplift, rising 1.7ppts and building on the 0.4ppts increase seen in the last quarter. The European mobile market is now firmly in recovery following a very difficult 2009

Mobile, Telecoms, Non-UK Telecoms 4 June 2010