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

Meta suffered its first year-on-year revenue decline in Q2, as long-standing challenges crystalise and an economic slowdown in the US dents display ad spend. 

In response, Meta is retooling its products to neutralise threats from post-social competitors like TikTok, and trying to minimise the impact of data restrictions. 

The long-term pivot to the metaverse is Zuckerberg's next big bet, but funding it depends on core business strength. 

Amidst the US macro downturn denting online sales, Amazon reported revenue growth of 7.2%, driven by AWS and advertising, but broad-based in nature

Inelastic demand for Prime has created opportunities to increase efficiency and monetisation, with cutbacks to fulfillment costs and increased subscription fees boosting Amazon's margins

Amazon's bottom-funnel search advertising growth has proved resilient, up 18% YoY, as growth eludes higher-funnel competitors—offering a strong indication that Amazon will largely buck the trend of advertising decline

YouTube’s tepid quarter signals a two-track online ad economy with advertisers protecting search spend as an essential cost of sales while cutting online display.

YouTube faces a challenge to strengthen its brand and direct response ad products while sacrificing some income to Shorts, its answer to competition from TikTok, which we estimate added three times as much ad revenue as YouTube in H1.

Beyond the short term, brands need to generate new demand, and that cannot be accomplished at the bottom of the funnel.

The Guardian has posted a stellar set of results: its highest annual revenues since the 2008 financial crash, and a £22.7 million upswing in operating cashflows, putting it into positive territory for the first time in decades

Looking ahead to 2022/23, the Guardian (alongside every other news publisher) faces the twin headwinds of the cost-of-living crisis and news fatigue

There are levers for the Guardian to pull to maintain growth, increase monetisation, and minimise churn

The 'enterprise metaverse' is best described as the next generation of communications, productivity, and collaboration tools—with VR/AR the centerpiece of the experience. Big tech is investing billions to bring it to market quickly

Quest 2 VR headsets by Meta have changed the cost equation for VR deployment in enterprise—low-cost headsets already have enterprise demand outstripping supply globally

Microsoft and Meta are closely aligned and co-operating, but Meta has its sights on its own high-value commercial customers and can expect incumbents to fight to retain them

A forthcoming UK regime on the relationship between publishers and platforms, certain to include Google and Facebook, will seek to replicate the payments achieved in Australia. However, the principles, design and precise process are still to be revealed by the Government

Facebook’s News Tab and Google’s News Showcase license content from publishers (including paywalled content) and direct traffic to their sites, although industry tensions remain high

Google Search is the elephant in the room because, while Facebook is a service to its users, search is a utility: making news more important to its offering, and explaining why Google’s commitment to the news industry runs deeper—and for the long term

Apple's News and News+ service to iOS users in the UK, US, Canada and Australia has attracted many ad-funded and paywalled news publishers since its launch in 2015

Publishers’ 'opt-in' to its walled garden environment to reach underserved demographics on their own sites and raise brand awareness, and more recently, take advantage of the reduced commission on subscriptions sold through the App Store, with Apple taking 15% instead of 30%

For Apple, the priority is to improve the user experience, ultimately driving sales of iOS devices, although its engagement with news is only a minor source of revenue compared to games. We regard Apple News as being mainly a device to buttress its reputation in those selected markets where it faces political and regulatory pressures, explaining its limited geographic roll-out

Some prominent news media—notably the Financial Times, Guardian and New York Times—generate most of their consumer revenue online, shining a light on the industry’s long-term sustainability

Many newsbrands are also moving towards two-thirds reader funding, one-third advertising, emphasising that their business, not just their operating purpose, is journalism; where relevant, the legacy of the advertising boom period (1980s to mid 2000s) is finally shaking off

Perhaps most importantly, an extraordinary decade of transformation has instilled executive and cultural confidence at the top end of the market. Realising the same outcome for popular, local and magazine media will require even more radical transformation—but positive  signals are emerging

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

These are edited transcripts of Sessions 9 and 10 covering: the Metaverse, Authority in the Digital Age for publishers and closing remarks. Videos of the presentations are also available on the conference website