European mobile service revenue growth recovered to nearly reach positive growth in Q3, improving a whole percentage point over the previous quarter to -0.2%

The main driver of the improvement was continued ‘more for more’ price increases combined with a lack of price wars at the lower end, although the current detente does not feel very stable. Furthermore, the pressure on growth from the general trend towards SIM-only and the consequent lower contract revenue looks unlikely to alter

Revenue growth of around zero as almost achieved this quarter is sufficient for the operators to grow the bottom line, but not to transform their network coverage in the style envisaged by 5G enthusiasts – more substantial growth is needed to cover the costs of such a step-change

UK mobile service revenue growth improved in Q3 to -0.8% from -1.7% in the previous quarter, a welcome turnaround after three quarters of declining growth. Pricing remains firm, data volume growth remains robust, and some of the one-off factors affecting the previous quarter have dropped out

Sky Mobile soft-launched at the end of 2016, and it is taking an aggressive approach with a very deep MVNO technical model with substantial fixed costs, a high advertising budget and ambitious internal subscriber targets. To date the fixed MVNOs have not had a substantial impact on the MNOs, targeting a customer base that is non-core, but with SIM-only on the rise this may change

Looking at recently released network performance statistics, the impact of spectrum disparities is clear, with EE both able to offer faster speeds nationwide due to its large blocks of 4G spectrum, and offer much faster speeds in London. EE also has a lead in geographic coverage, and is planning to push its coverage much further, creating a challenge for the other operators to keep up

France’s number two telecoms operator has suffered extensive damage since the 2014 takeover by Altice, which engaged in a slash-and-burn leveraged buy-out. Market share loss has triggered a revenue decline, with uncertainty of when this might stabilise

Increased investments will barely allow SFR to stand still in the competitive race for 4G and fibre deployment. Cash flow, while in decline, is sufficient to meet high debt payments – but rising bond yields could pressure P&L

SFR aims to appeal to subscribers through enlarged bundles of content sourced mainly from Altice investments in media, but execution seems geared to achieve VAT optimisation and augment the group’s political influence – which may be needed as massive job cuts are planned

BT had a strong quarter for revenue growth, improving to over 1%. This was helped by some temporary factors, but underlying trends look nonetheless strong across the board

Network development looks strong, with G.fast pilot pricing announced and development on track, selective FTTP builds gaining momentum, and mobile coverage and speed capabilities accelerating

Despite this, or perhaps because of it, the regulatory outlook is as murky as ever, with Openreach’s future structure still not resolved, spectrum auction rules still to-be-decided, and rulings on copper and fibre pricing from April 2017 heavily delayed

With the decline in its subscriber base accelerating and following an antitrust veto over its planned tie up with BeIN Sports, Canal+ has decided to radically restructure its retailing on IPTV – where over 60% of subscriber recruitment takes place 

The basic channel package is now wholesale to ISPs and included in upper tier triple play bundles – much higher volumes should more than balance a deep price cut. Soon premium and optional packages are to be unbundled on all platforms to create cheaper entry points and favour subscriber customisation

Canal+ is thus increasingly focused on supplying premium content, leaving the user interface to ISPs. Without the scale of other international content producers and in a nationalistic political context, we believe that this market rationale will eventually lead Vivendi to sell Canal+ to Orange

European mobile service revenue growth worsened slightly in Q2, dropping to -1.2% after three consecutive quarters at -0.8%. Southern Europe significantly outperformed the North, reversing the regional trend of recent years

EU roaming rate cuts and the increase in SIM-only subscriptions were the two main negative, albeit temporary, factors with the former particularly impacting northern European operators with heavy roaming exposure and the latter more varied in its impact across the EU5

Mobile service revenue growth was thus quite robust given these factors, helped by price firming in a number of markets. Looking forward, while the negative factors are likely to continue in the short-term they will drop out in two years in the case of roaming cuts, and SIM-only, whose impact is mostly profit-neutral to operators, will also reach an equilibrium in due course, and the market's overall resilience is encouraging

After the dispute with Vivendi, Mediaset Premium faces mounting losses with no buyer in sight and increasing tension within the controlling shareholder family

Sky has managed to resume growth despite the loss of the Champions League (CL), mostly thanks to strong advertising sales

Next year, both CL and domestic Serie A, will auction the 2018-21 broadcasting rights. Sky will be in a position to substantially increase its range of exclusive football coverage

 

BT Sport has seen a very clear positive impact from its first year airing the Champions League, with viewing up 60% year-on-year to June. Remarkably, its reach is now not too far off Sky Sports, though it still has some way to go in terms of consistent viewership

Pay-TV audiences for the 2015/16 tournament were in line with previous years – an impressive feat – but free-to-air disappointed. However, BT should not be too concerned – it has established itself as a worthy pay-TV partner

While BT’s execution has thus beaten reasonable expectations, BT Sport still carries a heavy net financial cost for BT, with debatable benefits. Yet, whatever the benefits may be, more viewers watching more often must surely help

UK mobile service revenue growth dipped down in Q2 to -1.7%, with this being driven by some one-off factors, such as MTR and roaming cuts, and some longer terms trends, such as the continued rise in SIM-only

Profitability nonetheless improved at all of the operators, suggesting strong ongoing cost control, and that some of the revenue weakness is caused by factors that do not impact (or even positively impact) the bottom line

Competitive performances were mixed, with EE’s revenue growth improvement contrasting with dips at the other three operators, driven by EE’s strong commercial momentum and it taking the SIM-only and roaming hit earlier than the other operators

FY 2016 has been an excellent year, with all three Sky markets showing improved performance as Sky delivered 7% revenue growth (5% after adjusting for 2016 being a 53-week year) and 12% increase in operating profit

The success reflects Sky’s commitment to product and service innovation and diversification in an increasingly fragmented marketplace combined with tight control of back office costs and focus on synergies

As a measure of its success, Sky has set new cost synergy targets of £400 million annual run-rate by FY 2020 and is aiming for continuing middle to high single digit growth in revenues, which should let it comfortably absorb the rising costs of Premier League and Bundesliga live televised rights under the next contracts