Linear TV is ageing, and the largest channels are ageing fastest. There is an ongoing double-whammy effect of a growing older population, and the loss of younger viewers to social media and SVOD services.

The PSBs are suffering more than most, especially the BBC channels. 31% of the population is aged 55+, but over 60% of viewing to BBC1 and BBC2 is by those aged 55+.

The trend can be halted, and even reversed to some degree. There is no inevitability to this ageing process, but it will take concerted efforts to fight it.

In a display of chutzpah, Mediapro acquired the Ligue 1 domestic broadcasting rights from 2020-24 in what is the most disruptive shock to the French broadcasting industry in a generation; one that is likely to accelerate Canal+’s decline, force a review of the outdated regulatory framework, and possibly spur an M&A spree.

The Mediapro move only makes sense as a highly speculative bid to resell the rights, or a dedicated channel, to French platforms in 2020. The odds are high that the broker ultimately fails to fulfil the contract, as just happened in Italy, where Sky is now expected to get the Serie A licence.

Precedents of new entrants acquiring domestic top-flight rights bode poorly for Mediapro, and for the league. The Ligue 1 may live to regret the introduction of a ‘re-sell right’ into its licensing terms.

The rights auction for France’s Ligue 1 will be held on 29 May. With Altice’s struggling subsidiary SFR unlikely to bid, Canal+ and BeIN Sports may not offer enough to meet reserve prices, triggering a postponement of the auction

In Spain, stiff fixed-line competition is shifting battlegrounds from football to scripted content. The Champions League has yet to sign up a platform for next season, while the upcoming 2019-22 La Liga rights auction may well fail to increase domestic revenues

With just 12 weeks before next season kicks off, Italy’s Serie A is also yet to secure a broadcaster, although we expect the league to back down and settle with Sky. In this deflationary environment, top clubs are eyeing a new Club Word Cup as an extra revenue stream – running the risk of further widening the financial chasm between themselves and smaller clubs

We interviewed the biggest hitters in the UK television production sector, asking them about the current issues affecting their industry, such as consolidation, Peak TV, and Nations and Regions quotas

Most pertinent, however, was the production sector’s relationship with the new buyers—Netflix, Amazon, Apple et al.—and how their approach to them differed for each one, as well as traditional broadcasters when pitching, negotiating deals or producing programmes

With views anonymised for candour, this report is an honest representation of an industry where quality and volume are both at an all-time high, despite the challenge of change brought about by these new players

Spotify is now the world’s first publicly listed on-demand music streaming service. Its global footprint generated €4 billion in 2017 from over 70 million paying subscribers and 90 million ad-funded users across 65 countries

As it expands, the service is steadily but surely moving ever closer to profitability, with a 2019 operating profit a very real prospect

So far and for the near future, Spotify’s global pre-eminence versus competition from Apple, Amazon and Google proves remarkably resilient. Plans to build upon its differentiating features will become ever more decisive as the tech titans will continue to wield their resources and ecosystems against the comparatively undiversified company

Despite the continued decline of linear TV set viewing through 2017 (-4%) and the first 12 weeks of 2018 (-3%), overall TV set usage remains flat at 4 hours/day due to the continued rise of unmatched activities (+19% in both cases)

We consider the recent growth of unmatched use to be predominantly due to viewing of online-only services (i.e. Netflix, Amazon and YouTube), since time spent gaming is unlikely to have changed dramatically. The increase in unmatched usage since 2014 exceeds the total viewing to the most-watched broadcast channels for all age groups under 35

Within the shrinking pie of consolidated TV set viewing, market shares remain broadly flat. However, several key digital channels have shown surprising signs of recent decline, reflecting stalling growth from the multichannel long tail versus the main PSB channels

2014 has been a good year for total advertising, which we forecast to grow by 5.5% across the year; display advertising spend is also forecast to grow by over 6% year-on-year. This is largely thanks to a positive economic backdrop, where we have seen a significant rise in consumer expenditure over the last two years

Online advertising spend has been the biggest recipient of growing ad spend, with 20+% growth last year, this year and next. This has mostly been to the detriment of print revenues, where online classified search solutions, amongst other factors like declining circulation, have disrupted print marketplaces

Video has been the largest growth area in internet advertising as online video consumption increases. Up to now online spend has largely been accretive to TV budgets but we are starting to see some advertisers switch to online video spend. However we do not expect TV to suffer in the same way as press

ITV and Channel 4 have asked the regulatory authorities to review the case for legislation that would for the first time allow the commercial PSBs to charge carriage fees for their main free-to-air channels on the pay-TV platforms

To this end, ITV has presented a detailed analysis showing the great contribution to the US creative economy due to the introduction of Retransmission Consent Compensation for free-to-air broadcasters in the US, but without setting this against the very different market structure in the UK, where the commercial PSBs enjoy significant privileges

Any change to UK rules will require primary legislation and is not expected until after the May 2015 General Election. Should action be taken, the choice appears to lie between regulation (adding “must carry” rules) and deregulation of commercial PSB privileges, where the end result might not be what the PSBs wished

The commercial non-PSB sector saw strong growth in share of total TV viewing of close to 40% as the multichannel TV homes universe doubled in the 10 years between the launch of Freeview in October 2002 and completion of digital switchover in October 2012, and even higher 50% growth in SOCI (share of commercial impact) thanks to the higher commercial airtime quotas of the non-main PSB channels

Even during the growth years, non-PSB channels that were present in 2003 felt a squeeze on viewing share and suffered losses as result of numerous channel launches that added to the long tail (Squeeze 1), and strong growth in the PSB families (Squeeze 2), which saw the total PSB share among the Top 25 channels in multichannel TV homes rise from less than 80% to over 90% between January 2003 and January 2014

Today, both the PSB and non- PSB commercial channel groups face the challenge of internet connectivity and increasing population of portable screens (Squeeze 3), and they are experiencing similar rates of decline. Yet, even if overall trends look the same, non-PSB viewing trends show significant variation by channel group and genre, to be explored further in Part 2

Northern & Shell has concluded the sale of the Channel 5 Group for the price of £450 million, a little over midway between the £103 million spent on acquiring Channel 5 from RTL in 2010 and the quoted target price of £700 million at the beginning of the year

Channel 5’s fourth place in the strong and buoyant UK advertising market, its PSB privileges and current audience and operating performance make it a rare and attractive opportunity for US groups like Viacom seeking to expand their international footprint

Among the challenges facing Viacom are the integration of the free-to-air Channel 5 Group reaching a broad audience with its own largely pay-TV channels aimed at the younger age groups. In the process, we expect Viacom to deepen its ties with Sky, including advertising sales, where further consolidation appears likely