The pandemic accelerated the print revenue decline of consumer magazines in the UK, plunging 12% in 2020; less than half of 2020 industry revenues are due to print. Larger publishers and established titles (e.g. The Economist) will survive the UK’s journey through the pandemic whilst ecommerce, a growing revenue stream for publishers, booms under work-from-home

Publishers now distribute content across multiple channels and reader touchpoints, blurring the lines of what a magazine is today. A focus on the reader economy has finally emerged, enhancing other revenue streams for brands in the right verticals. Execution relies on investment in the tech stack

Future is the UK star, led by its ecommerce revenues from surfacing products and services to readers. This prime position has allowed it to build further scale and consolidate titles from TI Media and Dennis. Despite Future’s successes, there is no single industry playbook as heterogenous titles and portfolios forge their diversified, digital paths

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

After China updated its Anti-Monopoly Law to cover platform companies, the Government is bringing to heel privately owned ‘national champions’, including via antitrust measures in their home market—the key source of their astronomical cash flow—and through interference in their expansion outside China

China lacks any tradition of anti-monopoly activity, given its gradual shift to the market from state-owned enterprises, it offers an example of theory in practice for antitrust reformers targeting platforms in the West

The global implications are huge: up to $2 trillion of Wall Street shares are exposed as China tightens controls on foreign IPOs. Regulators could also use enhanced antitrust powers to disrupt global dealmaking for economic leverage

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. 

Sales of used and new cars fell 18% in 2020, impacted by the pandemic’s closure of forecourts, and bottlenecks in the supply chain. Consumer demand for private over public transport has strengthened, however, pointing to a recovery of car sales in 202.

Market leader Auto Trader posted a 29% revenue decline in the year ending in March 2021, largely from necessary but self-imposed subscription holidays. Auto Trader revenues are set to rebound in 2021 as the car market’s recovery emerges.

The pandemic accelerated the transition of the consumer car buying journey from the physical forecourt to the digital space. Fully digital transactions are edge-case, but there is huge opportunity for scale players to facilitate transactions—needless to say, Auto Trader looks to be a key winner.

Across a range of genres, distinct local programming skews in popularity with the regional audiences it reflects. For example, Derry Girls’ viewing share in Northern Ireland is over 40% higher than across the rest of the UK.

However, market forces have cemented the dominance of London and the South East in terms of television production.

Moving more Public Service Media activity outside the M25 will rebalance production away from London, help fulfil a key commitment to serve all UK audiences, and differentiate PSM content from international services.

Early 2020 presented a nightmarish outlook for advertising revenues, but very strong late returns meant that total Channel 4 revenues were down just 5% YoY. Slashing content investment by £138 million, with production shut down and programmes deferred, resulted in an operating surplus of £71 million

Viewing share grew slightly in a weakened broadcasting environment, and given the fertile conditions, All 4 had a bumper year. COVID-19 may have even aided Channel 4’s existential transition to digital, but streaming services have outperformed

Despite fulfilment of its remit in a tough and unpredictable time, once again, privatisation is back on the agenda. We believe that it will be difficult to maintain the remit with a new buyer paying any more than a meagre sum, and even if that happens, a profit-oriented buyer will have incentive to game the obligations

The consumer books market has flourished during the pandemic: following early worries, publishers are reporting strong growth and profits

However, bookshops, the most important point of contact between the industry and readers, are facing their toughest challenge yet as ecommerce booms and continued home-working saps high street footfall                                                   

Publishers and authors are embracing new, online ways of promoting titles. These will require new ways of working, and are not substitutes for dedicated shops, which must be protected as much as possible

The press industry lost £1 billion off the topline from the calamitous decline in print revenues due to pandemic-related mobility restrictions, partly offset by gains on digital subscriptions, much harder to precisely size in revenue terms.

Trapped at home for the most part, online traffic to BBC News and news publisher services boomed. Popular news sites marginally grew digital advertising while the quality nationals attracted 800,000 new paying subscribers to reach nearly three million in 2020.

The outlook for 2021, in the transition to the ‘new normal’, is mixed. Consumer work patterns and news, information and entertainment habits are unlikely to ‘bounce back’ to pre-pandemic levels, placing free commuter titles at particular risk. Signs of confidence through online innovation are welcome.