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

With the publication of the Media Bill (expected to include details of the sale of Channel 4) seemingly delayed to at least after the recess (September), privatisation appears to now be on ice.

2021 was another demonstration of Channel 4’s resilience—showing record-breaking revenues, high content spend and encouraging rates of digital transition—setting a credible platform upon which the broadcaster's PSB credentials can be placed.

Some queries remain: Channel 4’s main viewing drivers are ageing, with fewer new shows being commissioned to replace them. Online engagement isn’t a substitute  for declining linear viewing, while digital advertising growth may get harder with more players, such as ITV and the streamers, entering the space in earnest.

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 sector, including leading executives, policy leaders, and industry experts, the conference focused on regulation, infrastructure, and how new technologies will impact the future of the industry

These are edited transcripts of Sessions 1-3 covering: regulation and legislation, PSB renewal, and clarity in the age of non-linear transmission. Videos of the presentations are also available on the conference website

The UK's cultural industries remain the strongest in Europe and digital distribution is a strong vector for the globalisation of British culture

The international reach and reputation of UK news providers is unparalleled, with the BBC, the largest news provider globally, reaching half a billion users weekly

Independent commissioning drives a dynamic ecosystem of TV exports with global clout—worth an estimated £3.4 billion—that remains stable despite Brexit

This report is free to access.

The Glasgow Climate Pact agreed at COP26 sets out national pledges to achieve net zero and contain global warming to 1.8°C above its pre-industrial levels— COP27 will buttress pledges, now at risk from the energy crisis, and advance some nations to 2030.

The TMT sector is a leader on net zero in the private sector. Companies that measure their end-to-end carbon footprint throughout their supply chain—as many do in the UK’s TMT sector—can target their GHG emissions.

The TMT sector underpins the UK’s vibrant digital economy that enables hybrid work-from-home (WFH), which reduces fossil fuel use thus heading off both the energy crisis and the climate crisis.

ITV met advertising expectations in Q1, matching the forecast 16% YoY increase in total ad revenue (TAR) (£468 million), while Studios (+23%, £458 million) bolted well above pre-pandemic levels. We assume, however, that Q1 was blessed in terms of the timing of programme deliveries

The amalgamation of ITV's three domestic digital services, ITVX, is on track to launch in Q4, with a bulked-up library, clearer strategy, and new features: perhaps arriving right on time to take on Netflix's ad-supported tier

The proposed Media Bill includes a couple of potential benefits for ITV, such as expanded prominence on connected devices and major online platforms, including on smart TVs, set-top boxes and streaming sticks, along with the possibility of a remit more aligned with the modern media landscape—however details around execution are currently lacking

Broadcast TV viewing resumed its downwards trajectory in 2021, following a pandemic-inflated boost in 2020. The effect has been compounded by streaming services retaining much of their lockdown gains, consolidating their place at the heart of people's viewing habits

Within the shrinking pie of broadcast TV viewing—still c.70% of total TV set use—the PSBs have held relatively steady, whilst Channel 5 has increased both its share and absolute volume of viewing

However, further decline seems inevitable, with the largest components of the programming landscape, namely longstanding formats and the soaps suffering badly since the beginning of the pandemic. We await the effect of various new scheduling strategies

The Government intends to privatise Channel 4 through its forthcoming Media Bill.

Given the uncertainty of the investment in Channel 4 and the limited upside from advertising, the only likely buyers are other broadcasters.    

There are potential costs to the UK if the unique programming output of Channel 4 is lost and in the reduced funding of the independent production sector.

 

There are just under eight million adults in the UK who only have access to free-to-air television, relying on it as a vital source of entertainment, information and company

These viewers watch much more television, and depend heavily upon the diversity and quality of content delivered by the BBC and other public service broadcasters

Without further support for PSB content in all genres, for all audiences, there is a risk of leaving millions of people out of ever-rarer shared cultural conversations, speeding up feedback loops of viewer decline, and losing the core public value in the ecosystem as a whole

Growth in European content supply may soon reach a tipping point as streamers shift from market grabs to profitability, while resources poured into production from states, consumers and advertisers are declining

The perceived value of long-form video content is dropping as consumers pay smaller amounts for a greater volume of choice, from which they are watching less

However, factors converge to prop up the European independent model: broadcasters’ resilient financing, the public favouring ‘deep’ local fare, talent’s preference for independents, market consolidation and new EU regulation