BT Consumer’s move to the EE brand is a gradual one, with an EE re-launch due next year set to accelerate this, although the BT and Plusnet brands will not be withdrawn in a hurry.

The company is hoping that the new converged EE will drive new revenue streams, a challenging task, but one that it is approaching with realism, and building on previous success.

BT confirmed that the inflation-plus price rise will be applied next year, along with a hope-to-be-sustained increase in front book pricing too. The cost-of-living crisis is putting pressure on ARPU, with FTTP likely to only partially compensate.

Revenues were stable year-on-year in Q3, with UK growth offsetting Continental decline. All three markets posted positive customer net adds across the quarter.

Underlying profitability is improving, and although World Cup-related changes to the football schedule depressed net income in Q3, they will lift it in Q4.

A possible sale of Sky Deutschland would make sense if it helps the buyer reach superior scale within Germany.

Mobile service revenue growth rose to its highest level in over ten years (+4.5%) as a result of the operators’ higher-than-inflation price rises.

BT/EE fared best with broadly-applied, sizeable increases and robust churn while H3G’s more modest increases and later timing led to just a minor pickup in its service revenue growth—in spite of continued strong performance on the subscriber side.

There are some early signs of an increase in consumer bargain-hunting and some payment challenges, with B2B robust for now but with an increasingly rocky outlook.

Revenue decline accelerated in Q2 as the cost-of-living crisis appears to be impacting UK sales, but profits remained strong thanks to last summer’s Continental sports rights reset.

In Italy, DAZN will return on Sky’s platform just in time for the new Serie A football season, filling a key gap in its aggregation strategy.

Looking forward, thanks to its enhanced profitability, Sky has the flexibility to respond to the economic downturn using pricing and content.

  • Under a revised deal, DAZN, the Serie A broadcaster, is now allowed to expand its distribution to the Sky platform in return for a reduced fee from TIM, the incumbent telco
  • The new-look Italian market is consistent with DAZN’s approach elsewhere in Europe, seeking blanket distribution and avoiding head on challenges with incumbents
  • For the Italian sports rights market, the agreements clear the air, but Serie A needs deep reform

BT Group’s revenue growth surged in Q1 to 1%, the first time it has been positive in five years, with a stronger than expected boost from the April price rises partially offset by the Virgin Mobile MVNO loss.

EBITDA growth, however, actually dipped to 2%, with little operating leverage due to cost pressures, although the company is still very confident in its full year EBITDA guidance (which implies 4% growth).

BT is far from immune to macroeconomic pressures, with pressure on costs, corporate revenue and signs of a sharp dip in broadband market growth, but it is well placed to deal with them given strong growth at Consumer and Openreach.

With the cost-of-living crisis expected to worsen over the coming months, the telecoms operators must walk a fine line—support customers but protect their financial performance in the face of a likely recession and rising costs.

We are likely to see weakness on the B2B side and consumers will look for ways to reduce out-of-bundle spend, seek retention discounts and spin down to lower speed tiers and data bundles, but we expect that dropping services completely will hold limited appeal.

Proactive retention activity and promotional pricing is likely to pay off more than slashing headline prices, and will help to avoid a damaging price war—a far bigger risk to their revenues than spin-down.

Mobile service revenue nudged into growth territory for the first time since the pandemic as a resurgent mobility boost combined with returning roaming revenues.

Q2 looks set to deliver a more convincing growth filip with inflation-linked price rises boosting by 2-5ppts, and a stronger roaming bounce for seasonal reasons.

The picture is not entirely rosy, however, with already discernible B2B headwinds and inevitable consumer bargain-hunting on the horizon.

On 12 May 2022, Enders Analysis co-hosted the annual Media and Telecoms 2022 & Beyond conference with Deloitte, sponsored by Barclays, Financial Times, Meta, and Deloitte Legal

With up to 500 attendees and over 40 speakers from the TMT sectors, including leading executives, policy leaders, and industry experts, the conference focused on regulation, infrastructure, and how new technologies will impact the future of the sector 

These are edited transcripts of Sessions 7 and 8 covering: UK mobile and the opportunities and challenges of infrastructure. Videos of the presentations are also available on the conference website

Sky continued to grow its UK revenue thanks to price rises, mobile customer additions, and a rebound from lost hospitality business in early 2021, but this was still outweighed by the recent reset of its Italian operation.

Aggregation remains a core focus, with Paramount+, and Magenta Sport in Germany, added to Sky’s bundles, while fibre rollout will intensify with the launch of Sky Stream puck as a standalone device later this year.

Declining buying power raises uncertainty over consumer behaviour: in previous recessions, pay-TV performed well, but today subscribers have more video options than ever before.