Mobile service revenue growth dipped this quarter but this was likely entirely due to the predictable (and predicted) impact of the abolition of EU roaming surcharges.  On an underlying basis, growth improved

BT/EE extended its lead in both service revenue and contract subscriber growth terms. EE’s substantial investments in network quality and customer service have driven returns to scale, and its multi-brand approach is working well

Contrasting with the returns to scale seen at EE, TalkTalk’s MVNO has suffered the reverse of this, unable to break-even despite peaking at just shy of 1 million customers, and deciding to retreat to an agency model.  Sky Mobile is performing respectably well in context, but may be headed for scale issues itself

Children’s media use and attitudes have dramatically changed over the last few years, stemming from the rapid take-up of smartphones and tablets

Traditional TV continues to decline at the expense of newer video services such as YouTube, Netflix and Amazon, with 43% of children aged 8-15 preferring YouTube videos over TV programmes

These online services offer content producers wider opportunities, but questions remain around the lack of regulation online, and the recent scandal around children’s safety on YouTube has heightened these concerns

Vodafone Europe’s revenue growth was very similar to the previous quarter at just under 1%, but this was impressive given the considerable drag of roaming cuts, with ‘more-for-more’ tariffs coupled with data volume growth driving underlying improvement

Flat-ish revenue was enough to send EBITDA surging 13%, or around 9% excluding some one-off distortions, driven by good cost control and falling handset costs, with this trend previously disguised by profitability issues in the UK

Looking forward, the question is whether Vodafone is doing enough to cope with future competitive threats. Competitive indicators (churn, NPS) have not improved; its new initiatives are quite mixed; and competitive intensity is likely to increase across a number of markets

21CF’s bid for 100% ownership of Sky has been referred for a Phase 2 investigation to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which will decide by 6 March 2018

Third parties Avaaz and Ed Miliband MP complain of the influence of the Murdoch Family Trust (MFT) and family members over the UK’s news agenda and political process 

A remedy could insulate Sky News from this influence. The offer of a Sky News Editorial Board at Phase 1 was refused. Third parties will ensure the debate in Phase 2 is very lively

Mobile service revenue growth continued to improve on a reported basis, but most of this improvement came from a significant dip in the MTR cut drag. EE remained the leader in terms of service revenue growth, with both the strongest ARPU growth and robust contract net adds

The quarter also benefited from the current round of in-contract price increases, which were more widespread and at a higher level than last year, and from a brief holiday in the impact of roaming cut regulation, the impact of which will strongly reverse in Q3 as ‘free roaming’ impacts the whole quarter at the same time as mobile users take their actual holidays

Recent spectrum announcements have far from clarified the auction outlook, with Ofcom deciding on a more restrictive spectrum cap than its initial views but both H3G and EE appealing its decision. It will likely be some time before all 5G spectrum auction rules are resolved, let alone actually holding the auctions or building the networks

The development and utilisation of streaming technologies has allowed major SVODs, such as Netflix and Amazon, to attain a growing proportion of video viewing

However, tech is just one of the advantages held by these services: plateauing content expenditure, the inability to retain IP and inconsistent regulatory regimes hamper the efforts of the UK’s public service broadcasters

The localised nature of audience tastes, as well as the diversity of PSB offerings remain a bulwark to aid in the retention of relevance but content spend cannot lag

Vodafone Europe’s revenue growth bounced back from a weak previous quarter, but its top 4 markets combined were broadly flat in underlying terms. There are nonetheless promising underlying signs, including reduced churn, (slowly) improving subscriber growth and steady NPS

Vodafone has launched all-you-can-eat social/music/video bundles under the ‘Vodafone Pass’ moniker in several markets, which appear both popular and ARPU-enhancing, and being early to market with such an innovation is laudable

Next quarter Vodafone will be hit by the full force of the EU roaming regulation, but excluding this factor the performance is likely to be steady at least, helped in part by the UK business recovering from its recent weaknesses

Secretary of State (SoS) Karen Bradley has made an initial decision to refer 21CF’s bid for Sky to the Competition Markets Authority (CMA) for a detailed consideration of media plurality concerns, to be finalised in the near future

The issue at hand is the potential increase in the influence of the members of the Murdoch Family Trust (MFT) over the UK’s news agenda and political process. The SoS rejected the remedy for Sky News brokered by Ofcom

Ofcom’s non-negative decision on the fitness and propriety of 21CF to hold Sky’s broadcast licences cleared another hurdle in the event the merger is finally accepted

UK mobile service revenue growth continued to improve, with EE now the clear leader in service revenue growth terms. The rate of improvement has started to slow, but pricing remains solid and data traffic continues to grow healthily

EE’s performance was helped by robust subscriber growth but mainly driven by its very strong ARPU growth, which is in turn driven by ‘more-for-more’ pricing and a service/content tiered pricing model. Others are starting to follow this approach

The short/medium term outlook remains healthy, with the price increases made in Q2 likely to more than compensate for roaming cuts in the latter part of the year.  Looking further forward, the launch of 5G could be disruptive due to the introduction of copious extra spectral capacity, and therefore the results of the upcoming auction will be key for the sector post-2020

Vodafone Europe’s mobile service revenue growth declined again to -1.0% from -0.6% in the previous quarter, but across the core top 4 markets it was essentially flat at -0.8%, and signs are encouraging for it improving next quarter

Contract subscriber share has (at last) stabilised across its top 4 markets, and continuing improvements in NPS suggest that Project Spring investments are finally being reflected in subscriber sentiment

The short-term outlook is positive with both subscriber growth and ARPU looking solid at worst. The longer-term results of market consolidation are the main threat, with powerful competitors potentially being created