Demand for telecoms capacity is booming, and the networks can (broadly) cope, with the increase primarily in off-peak demand. However, as the crisis continues, maintaining resilience becomes more challenging.

In the short term, the demand for ample, reliable connectivity coupled with reduced churn will add resilience to operator financials, although there may be significant weak spots especially in business markets.

However, as the crisis goes on, the pressure on capacity and network maintenance may grow, and the impact of the dramatic economic slowdown on consumers and businesses will also put pressure on financials.

In a likely scenario, the suspended football season could be concluded in empty stadiums in a June and July rush, nevertheless with severe financial consequences.

Pay-TV incumbents like Sky face limited risk—at worst they lose four months of subscription revenue for games already paid for. No-contract services such as DAZN must anticipate a more severe shock. 

To limit disruption, pain will have to be shared across the supply-chain with players’ pay first in line. But fast coordination in a continent-wide, multi-layered industry is challenging; in places, the issue may turn political.
 

The letter is free to access by clicking through the title.

Quality news media is a public good, and in the extraordinary circumstances of COVID-19 the sustainability of information and news provision should be ensured at all costs

COVID-19 has given new urgency to protect the supply of local and national news. News media, perhaps particularly local news media, is a critical information service for a vulnerable population, many of whom are confined at home. In the context of the findings of the Cairncross Review, the pandemic is intensifying rather than abating the sector's decade-long commercial crisis due to a clutch of inter-related structural changes.  

Many recent initiatives – including the Cairncross Review itself, the Nesta Future News fund and the Public Interest News Foundation – rightly focused on a framework for developing long-term sustainable models for news media. Government needs to shift the focus to managing an emergency; not just for our country’s health, but our citizen’s provision of quality news and information. Right now, we need to mobilize Government funding to make quality news a public service.

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To fight against the UK’s incipient pandemic, a full lockdown is in place for all but essential workers in healthcare, telecoms, food, utilities and banks 

Households have cut expenditure on all out-of-home categories from transport to entertainment and shopping (apart from food), and a tsunami of insolvencies beckons. Advertising is in disarray as consumers pull spending for the foreseeable future 

The Chancellor’s measures of mitigation aim to preserve businesses until the crisis ends. Wage aid will keep furloughed workers paid, although mass unemployment and recession appear inevitable  

The UK mobile market was steady this quarter at around -2% ahead of out-of-contract notifications hitting from February.

The mobile sector is playing an important role in tackling COVID-19 and is likely to be relatively resilient in the short term with a broadly-neutral financial impact. Longer term it will be exposed to the fortunes of the economy.

Elsewhere, there have been green shoots of positivity in the outlook: some good regulatory news; a degree of price inflation; Carphone Warehouse’s retreat is a positive for the operators, and some financial drags will drop out as the year progresses.

Amazon aired its first set of Premier League matches in December, with proxy figures supporting reports that it attracted up to 2 million concurrent viewers.

Amazon Prime penetration soared in Q4, backing up Amazon’s claims that record numbers of new members signed up on the first two days of its football coverage—an encouraging sign at the time of year when ecommerce spend peaks.

As long as Amazon remains principally an online retailer, bidding for premium packages of Premier League rights cannot be justified. In fact, it could retrench from Premier League football altogether after wringing out the value over three seasons.

Although increases are moderate so far, it is inevitable that overall video viewing will rise given a reduction in competition for people’s time. So far, unsurprisingly, TV news consumption has ballooned while unmatched viewing—a proxy for SVOD usage—has increased.

However, disruption to production of TV content and cancellation of live events will leave holes to fill in the schedule.

Flexibility is built into some types of programming, however nothing can replace live sport, while disruption in the production of scripted programming—especially high-volume soaps—will have knock-on effects that continue for years.

Broadcast radio has maintained its reach and listening time over the past decade: younger people listen less than before, but this is made up for by an ageing population.

The challenges to radio come from changes in distribution technology in the home and in cars, and from product innovation in the online audio space.

Over the next few years, we predict continued stability in radio, but as technology brings it into closer competition with online audio, broadcasters will have to continue product innovation.

Dear Friends,

Like so many of you, the team at Enders Analysis has packed up its office and gone to our homes in a bid to help flatten the curve of COVID-19. Our team is agile and prepared to embrace new forms of working closely together — even as we are physically apart — to support our subscribers in scaling the challenges in front of us all.  

We have substantially adjusted our research programme in the coming weeks and months to reflect these extraordinary circumstances, to provide you with analysis and actionable insights in these most exceptional and unpredictable of times. We are conscious that the timetable could be extended considerably beyond some commentary has suggested, effectively until a vaccine is widely available...

Dixons Carphone (DC) has announced the closure of all of its standalone Carphone Warehouse stores, distributing solely through its Currys PC World stores and online going forward.

Several industry trends have led to these difficulties and DC is pivoting its strategy to better position itself for the new reality.

This move is likely to be a positive one for the mobile operators, especially H3G.