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Rigorous Fearless Independent

The value of certain sports rights can be appraised through three major metrics: the ability to command viewing/engagement, the ability to drive subscriptions incremental to other rights, and the propensity of those subscribers to provide the rights holder with additional revenues.

In this report we examine these three metrics in order to gain an understanding of the tensions in the market, along with the reasons as to why there is competition (or not) for certain rights.

Unsurprisingly, outside of a few primary sports rights, there are an abundance of secondary rights which find it difficult to display their value over others. Their value relies just as heavily on whether rights holders are committing to, or retreating from, major rights.

TalkTalk’s latest results were mixed at best, with ARPU and revenue growth improving off a low last quarter, but net adds worsening, EBITDA falling sharply and full year EBITDA guidance suspended.

Its outlook remains challenging, with the move to high speed still a drag on EBITDA, and the migration to ultrafast a further (even greater) challenge, although this brings opportunity as well, especially if the company can move away from its discount brand focus.

Its prospective new owners highlight the need to invest in brand, systems, and full fibre capabilities to meet this challenge, but it is not clear where the money to do this is coming from, and it is also not clear if the desire to ‘reposition the brand’ includes a move upmarket.

UK mobile operators seem set to offer EU roaming on selected bundles only—a welcome new form of price differentiation.

This move is economically efficient and particularly helpful for MVNOs for whom the erstwhile arrangements were particularly punitive.

We don't envisage a return to the days of super-normal returns from roaming, but it is nonetheless conducive to much-needed price inflation in the sector.

Claire said “Sky has always gone out of its way to back diversity so it’s fitting that a woman will now lead the company."

“Jeremy Darroch developed a clear and well-thought strategy at Sky…Dana is inheriting a great team and she’s ten years younger than Jeremy. The die is cast at Sky although I expect she will give more thought to Sky’s telecom activities. Dana is incredibly cool-headed, analytical and thoughtful. She is charismatic and embodies the qualities that are coming through in feminism 2.0."

Alice said “Everyone went to the Netherlands, where the regulator operates in the same way as the British Ofcom. The United Kingdom has not lost a lot of jobs, but these activities, which were previously included in its exports, are now missing."

She added "British producers have moved from a position where they had rights to a position where they no longer really have any. Not to mention that the arsenal available to the country in the event of a dispute is less complete than when it was a member of the EU: For example, the convention does not provide for any dispute settlement mechanism."

Claire said “Twelve minutes is substantial, but it can accommodate an awful lot of other choices in a country of 65 million people. We’ve also seen a resilience of Virgin Media and Sky… all of these companies have proven to be extraordinarily resilient and, in fact, lead with their technology solutions to complexity, which is very very important.”

She added “The broadcasters themselves are really largely now under the tent of Sky and Virgin Media in terms of [being] protected from actual technology risk. I think that we will see continued, very strong growth in the video-on-demand offerings of broadcasters.”