Online advertising growth at big tech firms has flatlined, with real-term declines at Meta and YouTube. The weakness is concentrated in higher funnel ads.

Advertising is a leading indicator. A hardware slowdown is coming, services growth is stuttering, and businesses will want to save on cloud services.

Investors are hostile to attempts to spend through a downturn, but competition from TikTok and developments in AI demand targeted investment, while Meta is pot-committed to the metaverse. Tech giants are looking for savings elsewhere.
 

With viewing to traditional broadcast TV continuing to shrink rapidly, especially among under-45s, our latest forecasts revise a new low for broadcasters’ audiences: falling to just half of all video viewing in 2027, down from 63% today.

Long-form, broadcast-quality content will increasingly be viewed on SVOD-first services (e.g. Netflix, Amazon, Disney+) as online habits solidify, especially among older audiences. Platforms offering different content (e.g. YouTube, Twitch, TikTok) will continue to grow their share and will also expand total watch-time.

We forecast that under-35s will spend just a tenth to a fifth of their video time with broadcasters’ traditional long-form content five years from now, versus a third to a half for 35-54s and 85% for over-65s.

With major studios arguably over-indexed on SVOD, the stickier experiences of interactive entertainment and the metaverse will eventually form a critical pillar of studio D2C strategy, boosting subscription services and tying in closely with consumer products and theme parks.

Disney’s appointment of a Chief Metaverse Officer is good first step, demonstrating a strategic interest in the space. But other major studios remain cautious and distracted, with limited capability beyond licensing to engage in the metaverse for the next 24 months and possibly longer.

Meta will need to provide a strong guiding hand creatively and technically to ensure its new partnership with NBCUniversal is a success, and to evangelise the metaverse and its revenue model across the Hollywood studio content space.

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

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

Global SVOD operators are expanding their sports content offerings. Amazon just bought UK Champions League rights, Apple signed US baseball and global football (soccer) deals, Paramount and partners won the Indian Premier League cricket auction, while Netflix unsuccessfully bid on the US Formula One licence.

In the US, streamers feed an already very competitive market, while in Europe they could potentially relaunch inflation for rights after a period of stagnation. Next moves by Warner Bros. Discovery (BT Sport and Eurosport) and Disney will be critical. Sky and Canal+ could be facing upward cost pressures.

If rights fragmentation were to increase, deeper aggregation and bundling may be necessary to avoid shrinking the consumer pool while the pressure to consolidate may intensify. Intriguingly, global rights deals may become more likely.

Reportedly, BT Sport is about to seal a deal to extend its coverage of the revamped Champions League until 2027. Amazon is going to step in with a weekly game, and the BBC will get the rights to the highlights.

In France, Canal+ has outbid Amazon to claim the full rights package thanks to a bid that has grown the total value of the rights by 28%.                                  

With Canal+’s football content secured, the upcoming Ligue 1 auction may struggle to find bidders, a fate threatening other short-sighted leagues.

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