As Phase 1 digital shift from broadcast analogue to digital nears completion, individual platform growth trends have almost flattened out

The most likely area of change in platform trends over the next ten years concerns basic only subscription pay-TV, where we anticipate an overall increase in the total pay-TV base and change in platform balance arising from the introduction of low price basic packages

Phase 2 digital convergence between TV and the internet promises to take many years to reach maturity, and many questions need to be addressed in order to be able to assess its potential impact on the current broadcast TV marketplace over the next ten years.

In this presentation we show our analysis of trends in UK broadband and telephony to September 2011, together with our latest projections for residential broadband subscribers and market shares to 2016. Highlights for the 2011 September quarter include accelerating growth in the number of subscribers to high speed broadband, and the continuing increase in market share of BT Retail and BSkyB at the expense of virtually all other players. This quarter’s edition includes a look at high speed broadband pricing, and our take on the new guidelines on broadband advertising.

Although we continue to expect broadband subscriber growth to drop, we expect growth to be supported by increasing adoption among older and/or lower income householders, who are becoming more aware of the benefits of going online. We have also increased our residential market share projection for BT Retail, which has gained real momentum over the past year, with brand strength among late adopters and effective marketing of high speed broadband both having an impact.

Sky’s Q1 2012 produced strong 16% year-on-year headline growth in adjusted operating profits, although weakening TV product net additions underlined the challenging economic conditions

Churn remains comparatively low in spite of the economic conditions, while Sky’s current round of major investment in entertainment content, now showing the first signs of bearing fruit, could prove vital to holding churn down and stimulating gross additions

Growth in home communications dropped back compared to the level seen the previous autumn, but was still well above that seen in 2009/10 thanks to strong growth in standalone sales

Openreach has announced large cuts in the prices of some important components of physical infrastructure access (PIA). A further substantial reduction in duct prices is possible as a result of an adjustment by Ofcom to Openreach’s regulatory asset value (RAV)

The reductions are helpful to the economics of bids by altnets such as Fujitsu for government funds to deploy rural next generation access (NGA), and to Virgin Media, as it expands its existing cable network footprint

However, the economics of NGA continue to strike us as challenging and we expect the impact of PIA on BT to be modest due to the remaining potential wholesale revenue, and BT Retail’s ability to use third party PIA-based networks

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) judgment in the Portsmouth pub landlady case looks to have opened the door to legitimising the private or domestic use of decoders to watch premium sports and other pay-TV content outside the territories for which they were licensed

The outcome could prove to be a significant commercial opportunity for Sky to expand its overseas distribution among residential customers, but an extra test for the Football Association Premier League (PL) as it designs the next round of contracts with a view to at least maintaining current revenues

The ECJ judgment is more ambiguous over the question of public screenings for commercial purposes against the wishes of the right holders and the conclusion appears some way off

Advancing its free-to-air TV project, France’s Canal+ is to buy Bolloré TV’s national channels for €465 million to gain (scarce) licences for FTA terrestrial broadcast

Canal+ plans to leverage its library of original programming to attract upscale audiences, neglected by commercial rivals

However, the Vivendi investment case of a 9% return on capital is built on incompatible assumptions about profit margins and market share – to grow the latter in a mature market, a channel needs to sacrifice the former

The provisional findings of the Competition Commission’s (CC) investigation into pay-TV echoed the conclusions of the Ofcom pay-TV investigation in April 2010, concluding that Sky’s control of pay-TV movie rights was having an adverse effect on competition

The big difference between the CC and Ofcom lies in the choice of remedy, with the CC preferring to explore a range of other options rather than proceed with Wholesale Must Offer, a solution that the CC sees as entrenching Sky’s market power rather than undermining it

The three remedial options that the CC has decided to explore present significant issues and it seems unlikely that a solution will be in place before 2014

In this presentation we show our analysis of trends in UK broadband and telephony to June 2011, based on the published results of the major service providers. This quarter’s edition includes a first look at high speed broadband subscriber volumes, and our analysis of broadband growth in 2010 based on data recently released by Ofcom.

Highlights for the year 2010 include confirmation of our earlier estimate of a sharp increase in residential subscriber growth, and, despite this, the first ever decline in revenue from residential broadband, due to aggressive pricing of broadband/telephony bundles.

Highlights for the 2011 June quarter include broadband subscribers breaching the 20 million mark, a further decline in broadband market growth, continuing strong broadband subscriber growth at BSkyB and BT Retail, the first ever quarterly declines in cable broadband subscribers and LLU lines, and the first increase in BT Wholesale broadband net additions for four and a half years.

Fiscal 2011 was a vintage year for Sky, which reported a 23% growth in operating profit and 51% increase in free cash flow as it started to reap the full benefits of its investment in multi-product growth

Q4 2011 showed signs that tougher economic conditions are starting to bite, although the sharp fall in TV product additions was balanced by a fourth consecutive bumper quarter in home communications, in which Sky outperformed the rest of the market

Strong focus on operating efficiencies and product innovation combined with big investment in UK originated content should position the company well as competitive pressures build in the medium- to long-term, at the same time as allowing continuing strong profit growth

BT’s plans to deploy next generation access, combined with state-aided rural broadband projects, look set to give almost three quarters of UK households access to high speed broadband by 2016

New wireless technology is a feasible substitute for wireline for some low-end users and in specific areas, but we do not expect it to have a major impact on high speed broadband deployment

BT Retail and Virgin Media will in effect move significant numbers of their customers onto high speed broadband, but without significant price reductions we believe that, even by 2016, consumers’ reluctance to pay more will result in two-thirds of households remaining on lower speed options