ITV met advertising expectations in Q1, matching the forecast 16% YoY increase in total ad revenue (TAR) (£468 million), while Studios (+23%, £458 million) bolted well above pre-pandemic levels. We assume, however, that Q1 was blessed in terms of the timing of programme deliveries

The amalgamation of ITV's three domestic digital services, ITVX, is on track to launch in Q4, with a bulked-up library, clearer strategy, and new features: perhaps arriving right on time to take on Netflix's ad-supported tier

The proposed Media Bill includes a couple of potential benefits for ITV, such as expanded prominence on connected devices and major online platforms, including on smart TVs, set-top boxes and streaming sticks, along with the possibility of a remit more aligned with the modern media landscape—however details around execution are currently lacking

Netflix dramatically missed its quarterly guidance of +2.5 million subscribers in Q1, losing 200k net subs globally (although that includes 700k lost due to pulling out of Russia). Q2 is forecast to see a further net loss of 2 million (of a worldwide total of 222 million), the causes of which will also hit Netflix’s competitors.

Netflix prices continue to rise, with the Standard tier now eclipsing £10 per month. However, despite the current strain on household finances the streamer can still be confident that it can charge more without material consequence—video remains cheap compared with the past, and more time spent at home will lift Netflix's value to subscribers.

The upcoming clampdown on password sharing will aim to dismantle the 'culture of free' that currently surrounds the brand. However, we foresee that the company can only target the low-hanging fruit, so as not to risk inflaming subscriber relations by tackling all behaviour outside the accepted Terms of Use.

Broadcast TV viewing resumed its downwards trajectory in 2021, following a pandemic-inflated boost in 2020. The effect has been compounded by streaming services retaining much of their lockdown gains, consolidating their place at the heart of people's viewing habits

Within the shrinking pie of broadcast TV viewing—still c.70% of total TV set use—the PSBs have held relatively steady, whilst Channel 5 has increased both its share and absolute volume of viewing

However, further decline seems inevitable, with the largest components of the programming landscape, namely longstanding formats and the soaps suffering badly since the beginning of the pandemic. We await the effect of various new scheduling strategies

It has been ten years since Netflix launched in the UK, initially riding the growing wave of internet video, but quickly raising viewer expectations of user experience, overall production quality and long-term availability of content—challenging the rest of the industry to keep up

Netflix’s push into original production transitioned streaming from pure catch-up or repositories of old favourites, to a vibrant entertainment option, driving the formation of an SVOD market and providing other content companies with a larger addressable base now familiar with paying for TV

The streamer has deftly navigated the path from insurgent to joining the same establishment that it radically inverted—through considerate industry participation and self-regulation—however further questions will inevitably be asked about the company’s growing influence upon Britain’s cultural fabric

Although Q4 net additions were on target and on par with past years, Netflix has forecast very low global subscriber growth for Q1 (2.5 million)—this would be the smallest number of additions in that quarter since the company launched a streaming-only plan over a decade ago

New US price rises will once again prove that consumers value the service and its content but, by stealth, SVOD is no longer 'cheap'

January 2022 is a decade since Netflix launched in the UK. The pace of the change in the local sector that it drives and rides is astounding, and while its efforts to embrace industry responsibility are noticeable, more will be continually asked of it

Ongoing supply difficulties for PlayStation and Xbox through 2022 and beyond will result in the install base for the generation being permanently impacted. It raises the question: if you can’t buy a console are they even relevant?

VR will stage a comeback this year, as Quest 2 has its highest sales ever, the category will find new appeal from game (and metaverse) developers. If a rumoured Apple VR/AR headset eventuates, expect white-hot interest

Netflix will make strides in its games service―but mostly behind the scenes to deliver a once in a decade transformation of the industry. Don’t rule out a critical and exclusive mobile hit

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.

Netflix has moved into the third stage of its COVID narrative, with growth back and residual benefits from lockdown banked

Squid Game proves that the Netflix UI can set the zeitgeist but with that power comes sobering responsibilities, such as increased regulatory obligations and an understanding that internal issues have the potential to become very public problems

With subscriber growth no longer the most effective story to emphasise in maturing markets, it appears that a shift in narrative from subscriber adds to engagement has begun

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. 

Epic Games, maker of mega-hit Fortnite, sued Apple over alleged antitrust violations around App Store rules and Apple’s 30% tax on in-app transactions. A decision could come soon, though it will be contested on appeal.

The implications of the case could be far-reaching, as Apple and other tech companies like Google design their platforms to extract high-margin revenue from the transactions they facilitate, including news subscriptions: a five-year basic in-app subscription to The Times costs £885, of which Apple takes £158. 

It comes in the context of a flurry of debate and decisions around tech antitrust and consumer protection: new laws may ultimately be needed, but regulators in the US and UK are proving they can be creative with their existing tools.