The UK continues to lead the EU5 in take-up and consumption of video-on-demand services, with close cultural alignment and a historic williness to pay for TV content making it a receptive home for US SVODs

Netflix dominates in most markets, benefiting from high-profile US imports and big-budget local productions. Local SVODs are struggling, with those operated by FTA broadcasters facing considerable challenges

Collaboration between local broadcasters and pay-TV platforms is essential if they are to hold at bay the threat of Netflix and co., with an increasingly favourable regulatory environment opening the door for unprecedented collaboration

The US scripted content boom is spilling over into Europe: Free-to-air TV drama ratings have proven resilient but as costs and audience expectations have risen budgets are under pressure, necessitating flexible co-financing arrangements with American broadcasters, and Netflix and Amazon. Pay channels have boosted output—with uneven results

Long-term IP control is a key factor behind independent production consolidation, led by broadcasters seeking a secure stream of content and diversification away from advertising

Notable developments include the new wave of Berlin-based, internationally-financed series, the rise of domestic French content and Sky Italia’s edgy originals, Telefónica’s giant leap into Spanish dramas, and the continuation of Britain as an export powerhouse

Advancing its free-to-air TV project, France’s Canal+ is to buy Bolloré TV’s national channels for €465 million to gain (scarce) licences for FTA terrestrial broadcast

Canal+ plans to leverage its library of original programming to attract upscale audiences, neglected by commercial rivals

However, the Vivendi investment case of a 9% return on capital is built on incompatible assumptions about profit margins and market share – to grow the latter in a mature market, a channel needs to sacrifice the former

The digital transition is almost complete in France, five years after the launch of DTT. After undergoing an audience share decline, TF1's share is stabilising. In contrast, M6 improved its audience share during the transition. Both groups are likely to remain dominant in the FTA TV market, thanks to the partial withdrawal of public TV from advertising sales

The advertising recovery in 2010 was strong. Thanks to its diversification, M6 is less exposed to the cycle than TF1, which is rebounding more strongly. M6 is also structurally more profitable

Pay-TV platform growth has stalled, with subscription decline at Canal+ somewhat balanced by growth of low cost packages of IPTV providers. Canal+ will benefit from the withdrawal of Orange from premium TV and a new distribution deal with Orange. Combined with the roll out of new set-tops with PVRs, we are moderately optimistic on Canal+ prospects

To encourage investors, TF1 announced continued diversification of group revenues from reliance on the flagship TF1 channel, and an increase in group Ebitda from 16% in 2007 to 20% in ‘4-5 years’. Accelerating audience share decline at the TF1 channel indicates that new programming is also urgently required to maintain TF1’s ‘premium’ for advertisers

After two quarters that have fallen short of earlier guidance, TF1 Q3 results have at last met more subdued investor expectations of marginal growth in flagship TF1 channel advertising revenues in a total market expected to increase by about 4.5% in 2007, chiefly due to digital growth

TF1, France’s leading free-to-air (FTA) terrestrial broadcaster, has repositioned its channel assets in order to better exploit rapid growth of digital TV, now taken by 44% of households

Television's old world of analogue scarcity produced a clutch of big names in free-to-air (FTA) commercial broadcasting: ITV1, TF1, Mediaset, RTL and Sat.1/Pro7 being among the most prominent in Europe - companies grown rich and powerful through advertising demand and lack of competition. Today, they face the common challenge of making a successful transition into the new world of digital plenty. Can they prosper? Or must they disappear like dinosaurs in a whirl of audience fragmentation, ad avoidance, on demand, downloading, video-streaming, convergence, piracy and whatever else the future holds?

The new UK management team, led by former Energis CEO John Pluthero, still has the opportunity to improve C&W UK’s longer-term position

Rapid implementation of a Next Generation Network to cut costs and refocusing Bulldog remain critical

This note looks at the position of TPS, the satellite pay-TV venture largely owned by TF1 in France. We particularly focus on the issue of payments for football rights because sports rights have become the crucial ingredient in pay-TV success, in France and elsewhere.