The tender for UK rights to the revamped Champions League (CL) and Europa League is now underway. The incumbent, BT Sport, is likely to want to retain full rights and we would expect it to be prepared to pay a flat-to-modest increase

English clubs' recent strong performance in the Champions League may make the rights seem better value, but this won't necessarily translate to inflation going forward

Amazon and DAZN may be interested, but disciplined bidders are unlikely to push up prices

 

With more clubs, more games and no long Christmas break, the revamped Champions League (CL) will test its value to broadcasters with a tender that has just been released in France, over two years before the cycle begins

UEFA is banking on the rivalry between Canal+/BeIN, the ongoing rights-holders, and Amazon, broadcaster of Ligue 1 in France, and of the CL in Germany and Italy

Prime’s economics point to Amazon sticking to cautious, ‘value’-driven bidding in France. It could expand its limited sports line up in the UK and Spain with the CL, but only if current licensees BT/Warner Bros. Discovery and Telefónica take a step back from 100% coverage

Amazon's first reported loss since 2015 is not surprising in a difficult inflationary environment, as ecommerce resets from the pandemic boost. Highly exposed to cost pressures through its logistics business, the situation is not as bad as it looks

The increases to Fulfilled by Amazon fees have been completely lost in the storm, while costs continue to increase on all sides. Amazon's announced increases are unlikely to keep up 

Launching Buy with Prime will allow Amazon to increasingly monetise FBA: a further step towards creating a monopoly in the fulfillment space while also boosting the desirability of Prime membership

Amazon has capitalised on the pandemic’s boost to ecommerce, reporting 67% global revenue growth from 2019 to 2021. While Shopify’s impressive trebling of B2B revenues was from a lower base, at 44% of Amazon’s Marketplace it is closing the (still huge) gap

Shopify appeals to brands around the world, leveraging the open internet to establish a direct-to-consumer (D2C) business, undermining Amazon’s position as the B2B ecommerce one-stop-shop in 17 markets

Shopify is not a direct platform competitor to Amazon, which boasts a captive audience of Prime members and fulfilment. Shopify’s expansion to fulfilment in North America is the first threat to Amazon’s grip

BT has entered exclusive discussions with Discovery to fold BT Sport into a joint venture including the UK version of Eurosport, ending sale discussions with DAZN.

The upgraded sports service will allow Discovery—soon merging with WarnerMedia—to considerably boost its content line-up in a genre where rivals Disney and Netflix are absent.

The ecosystem—the Premier League, UEFA, and Sky—will likely welcome the deal.

The UK net neutrality rules are up for review; as usual, the operators are pressuring for relaxation, and there are strong arguments that the competitiveness of UK telecoms markets make such rules innovation-quashing with no consumer benefit.

The chances of mainstream video content providers producing a windfall for telcos are slim, but there are a host of more intensely commercial content providers which have far greater potential to pay extra money for higher quality content delivery.

Future services such as virtual and augmented reality will stretch even FTTP/5G networks; allowing the telcos to develop custom business models to facilitate their delivery may well speed up the development and implementation of the metaverse in the UK.

Podcasts are a small but growing medium, and global streamers and domestic audio players alike are investing heavily in podcast content, distribution and advertising technology.

The broadening choice and diversity of podcasts available has put discoverability, exclusives and personalisation at the heart of the race to become the number one destination for audio.

While the UK currently lags other markets in terms of advertising and monetisation, increasing financial viability coupled with
healthy listener demand suggests a bright future for the UK podcasting sector.

 

Google has lost its appeal of the European Commission’s antitrust ruling of 2017 that it had abused its position in general search to favour Google Shopping, its Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) channel for merchants, in relation to price comparison aggregators. 

Since the case was lodged in 2010, price comparison has receded as the key to consumers’ online purchases, also motivated by influencers, reviews, and browsing. Merchants use YouTube and Instagram to build brands, Facebook to launch products, and Google Shopping as the key alternative to Amazon for direct response.

The EU’s antitrust regime has once more solved yesterday’s problem, but this will shift for Big Tech to an ex-ante regime when the landmark Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Act come on-stream.

 

Netflix’s decision to launch games as part of the subscription bundle is smart business: rewarding current subscribers, leveraging its IP, and signalling that subscription is the best long-term revenue model in the games space. 

Expect technological innovation to be central to Netflix’s ambitions with games. Netflix will make it easier for different game experiences to occur, and ways to attract external developers will inevitably follow. 

For Disney, Netflix just made the battle for customers more difficult and more expensive.  Disney will need to make hard decisions about how to approach the games business—something it has shown before it finds difficult to do. 

Amazon has been criticised by commentators, governments and sellers for giving its own products an unfair advantage on its online storefront, which millions of sellers depend on for discovery

This line of attack misses the point of Amazon’s business, which is to operate marketplaces and extract profits from suppliers through fees and services. This model raises its own questions about competition and fair trading, but self-preferencing is not core

Amazon's strategy needs both buyers and sellers, but it needs to focus on the experience for customers as the foundation of its market power