2012 has been a year of two halves, with TV NAR up by 2-3% in H1, plus the feel good factor of the Diamond Jubilee and London Olympics, but down by 1-1.5% across the full year as economic conditions have worsened in H2 2013 and 2014 promise to be especially taxing times with significant downside risks due to weakness in the economy, the squeeze on consumer disposable income and beginnings of real fiscal austerity On the upside, we expect negative structural pressures, caused by increases in CI delivery and online growth, to subside and conditions to improve from 2015
The linear TV broadcast industry has kept its oligopolistic structure remarkably intact over the last 50 years against a background of much technological innovation and re-regulation, but now faces a new wave of innovation that promises growth of non-linear at the expense of linear True disruption can only occur by solving the device challenge of developing on a mass scale new, compelling and innovative ways to access content, but so far non-linear has achieved a very small share of total viewing while linear viewing levels are as high as ever Although non-linear viewing may become substantial, it is unlikely to result in fundamental change in the distribution value in the industry
The broadcast and online success of the London Olympics and Paralympics, though never in doubt, was beyond expectations.
Despite the large growth in mobile devices and rise in social media, audience data underlined the importance of live viewing on the TV set in the living room.
Although commercial audiences (other than Channel 4) took a battering, the Olympics/Paralympics was a blip and unlikely to harm budgets across the full year or have significant knock-on consequences in 2013.
YouView, the hybrid DTT/IPTV service backed by the public service broadcasters, is here, but with an initial retail box price of £300 it will be heavily dependent on the subsidies offered by ISP distributors BT and TalkTalk The TV market has evolved since YouView’s conception in 2008, with many other internet-enabled options now available; its managed and integrated approach gives it some advantages but doesn’t make it a ‘must have’ We expect YouView to mainly appeal to Freeview and BT Vision upgraders and project take-up between 1-3 million TV homes by 2015, though if the product improves and pricing falls dramatically it could see faster growth
Further sharp year-on-year declines in viewing share by the leading commercial PSB channels, ITV1 and Channel 4, in Q1 2012 run contrary to the general stabilisation of viewing trends as Digital Switchover nears completion
The Channel 4 decline is more easily explained by exceptional factors, while closer examination of NAR trends suggest that ITV Family NAR has performed less well in recent quarters than results releases suggest
Once past Digital Switchover, digital convergence trends appear less of a threat towards the future stability of ITV and Channel 4 family viewing trends than the competitive threat from Sky as it raises its investment in UK programme origination
With the economy drifting sideways, we have set our centre case forecasts at 0-1% average annual growth in TV NAR and assigned a low probability to a repeat of the hyper-cyclical downturn of 2008/9
Comparative international data show a pervasive long term weakness in display advertising trends across the developed world, while emerging markets in Asia, Latin America and Central/Eastern Europe take an increasing share of global budgets
With digital switchover near completion, channel viewing shares across the main commercial groups should stabilise, but internet advertising, especially online video, will exert a negative structural downward pressure on TV NAR over the next three years at least
The launch of Netflix in the UK and Ireland has ignited the debate on the threat from over-the-top video to pay-TV services from Sky, Virgin Media and BT
Unlike in the US, Netflix’s UK prospects and those of competitors such as Lovefilm, are fundamentally limited, given the availability of low priced pay-TV with strong on-demand components included for free
The impact of Netflix on the UK pay-TV industry is therefore likely to be even smaller than the (hard to discern) effect it has had in the US