Google and Roku are battling over the terms that YouTube is carried on connected TV (CTV) platforms—one of many power struggles over who gets what share of a booming CTV market.

Roku has invoked competition concerns over Google’s conduct. However, current laws and proposed legislation are unlikely to cover this disagreement, which should instead be seen as a standard business negotiation.

Various companies are looking to fill the CTV platform space, not least Google and Amazon. If Roku’s tough negotiating tactics threaten its customers’ access to content, it could find it difficult to maintain its platform foothold.

Ofcom has approved the relaunch of BBC Three as a linear channel in February, and mandated that it will appear within the first 24 slots of electronic programme guides. The 2016 cost-cutting move online saw a loss of about 75% of viewing of BBC Three content

The linear relaunch has the potential to actually lower viewing of the channel's biggest shows. Transmission on BBC One and Two is the overriding driver of reach and discovery of all BBC Three's recent long-form shows, bar perhaps Normal People and RuPaul's Drag Race UK; the new channel will have lower prominence

Giving the channel a home of its own allows it to make the content it really needs to. Currently commissioning has the twin purpose of finding approval with the young whilst also holding up a proportion of the BBC One schedule. These are contradictory intentions

ITV's total advertising revenue (TAR) for the nine months to September was up 30% YoY, and 8% higher than 2019, with the full year expected to be up 24%. Its guidance for 2021 suggests TAR of c. £1.95 billion (up 24%), which would be 10% above 2019, and ITV's highest advertising revenue ever

ITV Hub remains reliant on Love Island and football. Although in the past nine months, ITV's online viewing has risen 39% YoY—adding 138 million hours of online viewing—that uplift is entirely down to the Euros and Love Island

Meanwhile, the Sky Glass launch has revealed a future of collaboration and self-determination for ITV and other PSBs: recent deals with Sky and Virgin have seen ITV trading short-term revenue for deals that maintain the broadcaster's brand in the forefront of the viewer's attention, alongside increasing direct access to them

Sky has started to reap benefits from its substantial reduction in sports rights costs in Italy and Germany, helping to grow group EBITDA by 76% in Q3, despite a slight drop in revenue.

With this change in strategy, the business model in Italy is undergoing an upheaval. Meanwhile, the UK continues to perform well, with further promise on the horizon thanks to the bold launch of Sky Glass.

This streaming TV is a future-proofing leap forwards in Sky’s ever-more-central aggregation strategy, starting the business down the long path to retiring satellite, though this is probably still over a decade away.

The transition from linear to digital and on-demand usage has the potential to unravel national television ecosystems. Global tech monopolists may eventually control the interface and content discovery paths, pushing European providers down the supply chain.

Maintaining cultural sovereignty over the industry’s architecture is a prerequisite of a thriving, pluralistic ‘electronic public square’, as well as a high performing and locally-relevant creative economy.

Only consolidated commercial broadcasters have sufficient scale to steer national markets towards digital models where European content providers retain prominence and their ability to set the popular cultural agenda. 

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

The government is intent on privatising Channel 4, largely as is, with some potential shifts to the remit and a re-evaluation of the Terms of Trade and the publisher/broadcaster model

We note a valuation range of between £600m and £1.5bn, depending on the scenario and the buyer’s ability to create cost-savings. The counterfactual—a competitor buying Channel 4—could be motivating, while many broadcasters could benefit from the sale given that the government will have to provide the buyer with surety around uncertainties like prominence, licences and gambling/HFSS advertising

Given the potential and incentive for a profit-oriented owner to game Channel 4’s current woolly remit, if the government wants to guarantee a continuation of the benefits C4 presents onscreen and to the economy, much consideration need be placed on making the obligations more quantifiable and trackable

Sky’s revenue was up 15% in Q2, back to pre-COVID levels despite some lingering pandemic effects such as most pubs and clubs remaining closed. EBITDA fell by a third, driven by higher costs from sports rights, since very few live sports events took place in Q2 2020.

The impact of “resetting” football rights is already evident in Germany and Italy, with 248k net customer losses across the group despite growth in the UK. However, Sky will make substantial savings, and we expect this will more than offset lost revenues.

Meanwhile, Sky continues to strike deals with other content providers, solidifying its position as the leading household entertainment gatekeeper. In time, apps for NBCU’s Peacock, ViacomCBS’ Paramount+, ITV Hub, and, in Germany, RTL TV Now and DAZN, will all be aggregated within Sky Q.

ITV’s H1 advertising revenues were up 29% YoY—and up 2% compared to 2019—to £866 million, with the Euros and an improving market ushering in the biggest June ever for the broadcaster. Studios revenues rose 26% (to £798 million), which was 5% better than 2019

ITV’s new deal with Sky provides clarity around the relationship between the two companies, with ITV soon able to dynamically serve ads on both downloaded content and linear channels (but apparently not via Sky Adsmart) on Sky Q. By the end of 2022, the full ITV Hub app will be available on Sky Q

BritBox—which was not part of the Sky deal—has shown muted growth in the UK (adding 55k in H1 to 555k subscribers), while over the same period, international subscriptions lifted 18% (to 2 million)

Viewing habits are changing but live is still central to the TV experience

Television’s biggest shows are amongst the most timeshifted, and therefore have an outsized impact on the decline of live viewing debate

Viewing—not just of news and sport—is still overwhelmingly live, despite differences across genres and broadcasters