The government is intent on privatising Channel 4, largely as is, with some potential shifts to the remit and a re-evaluation of the Terms of Trade and the publisher/broadcaster model

We note a valuation range of between £600m and £1.5bn, depending on the scenario and the buyer’s ability to create cost-savings. The counterfactual—a competitor buying Channel 4—could be motivating, while many broadcasters could benefit from the sale given that the government will have to provide the buyer with surety around uncertainties like prominence, licences and gambling/HFSS advertising

Given the potential and incentive for a profit-oriented owner to game Channel 4’s current woolly remit, if the government wants to guarantee a continuation of the benefits C4 presents onscreen and to the economy, much consideration need be placed on making the obligations more quantifiable and trackable

ITV’s H1 advertising revenues were up 29% YoY—and up 2% compared to 2019—to £866 million, with the Euros and an improving market ushering in the biggest June ever for the broadcaster. Studios revenues rose 26% (to £798 million), which was 5% better than 2019

ITV’s new deal with Sky provides clarity around the relationship between the two companies, with ITV soon able to dynamically serve ads on both downloaded content and linear channels (but apparently not via Sky Adsmart) on Sky Q. By the end of 2022, the full ITV Hub app will be available on Sky Q

BritBox—which was not part of the Sky deal—has shown muted growth in the UK (adding 55k in H1 to 555k subscribers), while over the same period, international subscriptions lifted 18% (to 2 million)

Viewing habits are changing but live is still central to the TV experience

Television’s biggest shows are amongst the most timeshifted, and therefore have an outsized impact on the decline of live viewing debate

Viewing—not just of news and sport—is still overwhelmingly live, despite differences across genres and broadcasters

Across a range of genres, distinct local programming skews in popularity with the regional audiences it reflects. For example, Derry Girls’ viewing share in Northern Ireland is over 40% higher than across the rest of the UK.

However, market forces have cemented the dominance of London and the South East in terms of television production.

Moving more Public Service Media activity outside the M25 will rebalance production away from London, help fulfil a key commitment to serve all UK audiences, and differentiate PSM content from international services.

Early 2020 presented a nightmarish outlook for advertising revenues, but very strong late returns meant that total Channel 4 revenues were down just 5% YoY. Slashing content investment by £138 million, with production shut down and programmes deferred, resulted in an operating surplus of £71 million

Viewing share grew slightly in a weakened broadcasting environment, and given the fertile conditions, All 4 had a bumper year. COVID-19 may have even aided Channel 4’s existential transition to digital, but streaming services have outperformed

Despite fulfilment of its remit in a tough and unpredictable time, once again, privatisation is back on the agenda. We believe that it will be difficult to maintain the remit with a new buyer paying any more than a meagre sum, and even if that happens, a profit-oriented buyer will have incentive to game the obligations

The launch of the BBC’s blueprint for its approach to the Nations and Regions is timely, coinciding with the kick-off of negotiations over the BBC’s financial settlement for the next charter period.

If the licence fee were to be frozen or only an inflationary increase applied, by 2027 the BBC’s annual licence income would be £302-539 million lower in real terms. Just to maintain the BBC's current levels of funding, it would need an inflationary increase, plus an annual increase of 2.0%.

The BBC's commercial ventures are unlikely to cover any shortfall in licence fee income. To generate sufficient dividends to cover the shortfall for the PSB group, income produced by BBC Studios (and the BBC’s other commercial ventures) would need to grow by an order of magnitude.

Apple is bringing in privacy changes on iOS that could hurt ad-funded apps. 

Responding to platforms’ legitimate push for user privacy is a trial for regulators in the midst of building new online antitrust regimes. 

Antitrust rulings are chipping away at the App Store’s stringent terms of use, but reforms will keep it at the centre of the iOS universe. 

Advertising income has been the lifeblood of commercial TV for decades, but declining linear audiences—combined with digital video alternatives—mean the TV advertising model must evolve to ensure it remains as potent a medium for brands as ever.

Lack of effective audience measurement and somewhat opaque advertiser/agency/sales house relationships are hampering linear TV advertising revenues. Both issues need resolving to underpin a healthier ecosystem overall.

Flexibility is key to this evolution. A move to audience buys across most linear and BVOD inventory would provide greater flexibility and targeting for advertisers, and would sit alongside some premium context buys. A greater onus on volume deals would give broadcasters more certainty to invest in content and their advertising propositions.

On 9 and 10 March 2021, Enders Analysis co-hosted the annual Media & Telecoms 2021 & Beyond conference with Deloitte, and sponsored by Barclays and The Financial Times.

With over 50 speakers from the TMT sectors, including leading executives, policy leaders, and industry experts, the conference focused on the impact of the pandemic on society and the TMT sector, decarbonising work, and the post-pandemic recovery.

Over 1,000 attendees enjoyed our first virtual conference and these are edited transcripts ofthe speakers on Day 1, with keynote speeches and sessions on: sustainability in the TMT sector, news media, telecoms, and tech. Videos of the presentations are also available on the conference website.