For the media and entertainment industry the dawn of the metaverse, and the word soup of acronyms that accompanies it, is the latest high-profile technology wave that threatens to simultaneously upend established distribution models and reinvent both the experience and relationship with the audience.

Many companies will feel they have been here before. The last 25 years have seen technologies move from linear to on-demand and physical to digital; and devices from fixed, heavy boxes, to always connected and mobile-first. Some companies never recovered from these changes.

The next 24 months is a particularly useful window to invest at small scale and with limited downside risk. With audiences small but influential, there is opportunity to start early, develop robust test cases and establish new community-building and storytelling formats.

For the media and entertainment industry the dawn of the metaverse, and the word soup of acronyms that accompanies it, is the latest high-profile technology wave that threatens to simultaneously upend established distribution models and reinvent both the experience and the relationship with the audience.

Music is the media sector (outside gaming) that has moved fastest to experiment with metaverse applications, so far mainly on gaming platforms like Fortnite and Roblox, which provide a ready game-centric audience but offer little lasting innovation.

Music's metaverse potential beyond gaming is huge, led by artists who want a more dynamic online presence, though we anticipate a long trajectory towards mainstream applications as questions remain around formats, design, platforms, and monetisation.

The pandemic years boosted many businesses selling services on subscription in the UK: work-from-home gave people more time and money to widen the services they enjoyed in the home, such as gaming, entertainment and music, also boosting engagement with trusted news

The cost-of-living crisis dented the number of subscribers to OTT SVOD and news services in Q2 2022. Broadband and mobile are must-have; bundles of services (e.g. Sky’s pay-TV and broadband or mobile) are more resilient; yearly and multi-year contracts prevent churn relative to monthly contracts; and services that cater to passions (e.g. football) are always need-to-have

Subscription (or supporter) media and news services reaped the demand for trusted news through the pandemic, but now face a tough challenge to their toplines from the economic downturn—and also to transition to a sustainable business model for media audiences, while advertisers are also feeling the heat

Meta suffered its first year-on-year revenue decline in Q2, as long-standing challenges crystalise and an economic slowdown in the US dents display ad spend. 

In response, Meta is retooling its products to neutralise threats from post-social competitors like TikTok, and trying to minimise the impact of data restrictions. 

The long-term pivot to the metaverse is Zuckerberg's next big bet, but funding it depends on core business strength. 

Market revenue growth continued to accelerate in Q2 to reach 3%, but broadband growth worryingly dipped as the lockdown boost waned.

Differing pricing dynamics (among other factors) led to very different outcomes for the main players, with BT’s growth surging to 7% while VMO2’s revenue stayed in decline.

Underlying trends of weakening broadband growth, keener pricing and customer bargain seeking point to slower growth ahead … until the next price increase.

Amidst the US macro downturn denting online sales, Amazon reported revenue growth of 7.2%, driven by AWS and advertising, but broad-based in nature

Inelastic demand for Prime has created opportunities to increase efficiency and monetisation, with cutbacks to fulfillment costs and increased subscription fees boosting Amazon's margins

Amazon's bottom-funnel search advertising growth has proved resilient, up 18% YoY, as growth eludes higher-funnel competitors—offering a strong indication that Amazon will largely buck the trend of advertising decline

YouTube’s tepid quarter signals a two-track online ad economy with advertisers protecting search spend as an essential cost of sales while cutting online display.

YouTube faces a challenge to strengthen its brand and direct response ad products while sacrificing some income to Shorts, its answer to competition from TikTok, which we estimate added three times as much ad revenue as YouTube in H1.

Beyond the short term, brands need to generate new demand, and that cannot be accomplished at the bottom of the funnel.

Press reports suggest that VMO2 is in the early stages of negotiating a deal to buy TalkTalk, which has reportedly been for sale since April.

There is strong industrial logic to the deal, with a sub-brand useful and significant synergies from moving the TalkTalk base to VMO2’s network, with the latter gain at Openreach’s expense.

The main hurdle for the deal would be regulatory clearance, with there being major issues for the CMA—from a range of angles—for such a large in-market merger.

The 'enterprise metaverse' is best described as the next generation of communications, productivity, and collaboration tools—with VR/AR the centerpiece of the experience. Big tech is investing billions to bring it to market quickly

Quest 2 VR headsets by Meta have changed the cost equation for VR deployment in enterprise—low-cost headsets already have enterprise demand outstripping supply globally

Microsoft and Meta are closely aligned and co-operating, but Meta has its sights on its own high-value commercial customers and can expect incumbents to fight to retain them

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.