- Italy's Serie A could award its 2021-24 broadcasting rights tomorrow to either Sky or DAZN (backed by TIM) for a fee significantly down on the previous cycle
- Either outcome looks good for Sky: increasing coverage at a lower fee, or pivoting to aggregation as DAZN will need to access Sky’s subscriber base
- DAZN and its ally TIM are also shifting strategy, but with weak rationale. The Italian auction reinforces our expectation of a drop in Premier League fees in the imminent British tender
Amazon advertising grew by 52% in 2020, growing at a faster rate than Google and Facebook, with even more headroom to expand in 2021.
Amazon is poised to benefit from another pandemic year after investing heavily in warehouse safety and aggressively expanding its logistics capabilities.
Expansion in groceries is likely in 2021, while Amazon's brand-focused strategy takes a back seat. Clarity over regulations in India will drive long-awaited expansion.
The launch of new games consoles this week showcases broadly divergent strategies for Sony and Microsoft, with market leader PlayStation focused solely on defending its model against the rising tide of cheaper subscription games services.
Xbox's consumer offer is the best value proposition for these difficult economic times, attracting new customers and positioning for growth, and stopping slavish devotion to 'core gamers' in the process.
Amazon's Luna lands, providing big competition in game streaming services for Google's Stadia. But nobody is taking any notice, as neither provide a real breakthrough for the industry or great value for gamers. Stadia’s lifespan could be limited.
GDP growth slowed in August (+2.1%) from July (+6.4%), despite the boost to the hospitality sector from Eat Out to Help Out, while work from home (WFH) guidance remained in place for professional services.
WFH is providing resilience to B2B service verticals, thanks to the UK’s digital capabilities, while decimating B2C businesses, whose resilience is threatened as loan and furlough support programmes wind down. Rising unemployment casts a pall over consumer demand in the first winter of the pandemic.
Online continues to power retail sales, as consumers replace out-of-home with in-home activities. Online grocery sales have leapt to 10% of all grocery sales—double the pre-pandemic levels.
Admissions and box office revenues in 2020 will be the lowest in over three decades. The pandemic forced the closure of theatres, putting pressure on cinema to a degree unlike ever before.
The reasonable success of the straight-to-TVOD releases under lockdown has some studios suggesting TVOD distribution will live alongside theatrical in the future. However, simultaneous releases are unacceptable for cinemas and TVOD’s sub-optimal financial reality means theatrical release will remain essential for most films.
TVOD distribution will temporarily play an expanded role, while SVOD will pursue its climb up the distribution chain and big studios will assert their increased power to negotiate more favourable terms with cinema owners.
Online reviews are a vital input for consumer decision-making. However, reviews are easy to manipulate, and widespread fraud is undermining credibility and raising the issue of consumer protection.
Facebook, Google, and Amazon utilise reviews to improve the consumer experience, but also to sell advertising to businesses and to address fraud. These companies leverage their data superiority to better utilise reviews on their platforms, and possess a competitive advantage, versus sites like TripAdvisor, Yelp, and eBay.
Demand for expert opinion remains strong, yet is supplied only by publishers and Which?, a small segment in terms of share of traffic relative to platforms.
Retail sales in April, the first full month of lockdown in the UK, declined a massive 18% in volume, excluding fuels. As shops open, retail will rise month-on-month, but continue to decline year-on-year as the level of retail remains durably impacted by recession.
Online soared to 30% of retail sales in April, up from 22% in March. The share of online will retreat in the second half of the year as lockdown eases and expenditure returns to the high street, but it will still claim 25-27% of retail sales excluding fuels in 2020, up from 19% in 2019.
COVID-19 is accelerating a significant consumer shift to online, and is bringing to a head the crisis of physical retail sales, setting the stage for paradigm shift.
Amazon reported $75bn in net sales, which was largely in line with expectations, and 28% growth in Prime subscription revenue—as Amazon now has more than 150 million Prime subscribers worldwide—cementing its place as the irreplaceable utility for many in lockdown.
However, Q1 results only covered a few weeks of lockdown. Amazon expects low profitability in Q2 as lockdown persists in its main markets, with customer expenditure focused on a narrow basket of essentials as people face pressures from unemployment and business closures.
Amazon’s warehouses are a key vulnerability in the time of COVID-19. Jeff Bezos pledged $4bn to keep workers safe and warehouses in function, though whether this is enough to placate government’s and workers’ concerns is yet to be seen.
2020 promises a year of transition for the games industry: eSports and games broadcasting are competing with traditional programming; game streaming services are becoming meaningful platform competition; and new consoles are on the way.
While most in the studio and TV industries continue to struggle with the games market—neither understanding (or seeing) a strategic fit, nor showing a willingness to invest—expect explosive growth to power the industry for the next decade and transform all entertainment services, not just games.
The ‘free-to-play’ games sector requires oversight and regulation to protect children and the vulnerable; expect regulatory turbulence in the UK, Europe and China.
Google’s Stadia promises the most credible game streaming service yet, but building a subscription bundle of top titles would require an all-out bet in the sector
Google is building its own game studios – to win over others it must overcome a troubled history in gaming, mitigating risks to developer business models and creative integrity
Games are much more technically demanding to stream than video, presenting an advantage to Google, Microsoft and Amazon – and a boost to telecoms network demand, welcomed by operators