Piers Morgan provides the tentpole supporting TalkTV, a new channel devoted to personality-led news, current affairs and entertainment. Three hours of polished, primetime programming will build on TalkRADIO’s existing video output, drawing from across News UK’s stable of brands.

Increasing competition in opinionated news and discussion formats, as well as the harsh economic reality of producing TV news means TalkTV is unlikely to be profitable in the mid-term. There will be high up-front costs for a bigger share of voice in the UK media.

However, TalkTV will bring benefits to News UK’s wider portfolio, take advantage of the news genres’ relative resilience in a robust TV ad market and provide high-quality video content that is now an inevitable part of being a multimedia news organisation.

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

Groupe Le Monde has been on the road to fiscal recovery since it was rescued from bankruptcy in 2010 by private investors for €110 million

Through the pandemic Le Monde has grown its paying audience to almost peak print levels (in 1979), and is targeting growth to 1 million subscribers by 2025

Multiple brands provide Groupe Le Monde with a strong foundation for diversification, a necessary ingredient for further growth, exemplified by a growing range of news media

 

TalkTalk is reportedly for sale, with Vodafone and Sky the obvious potential buyers, and a fairly aggressive price requested.

TalkTalk would bring synergies and enhanced market position to either Vodafone or Sky, but also integration and other issues.

Consolidation may bring a degree of market calming, although the more major battles would remain between the infrastructure-based players BT/Openreach, VMO2, and the altnets.

The Government intends to privatise Channel 4 through its forthcoming Media Bill.

Given the uncertainty of the investment in Channel 4 and the limited upside from advertising, the only likely buyers are other broadcasters.    

There are potential costs to the UK if the unique programming output of Channel 4 is lost and in the reduced funding of the independent production sector.

 

As part of the House of Lords Communications and Digital Committee inquiry into the future of BBC funding, Claire Enders gave oral evidence. Here we reproduce her accompanying slides.

The presentation highlights the reliance placed upon the BBC for information during the pandemic, and contextualises the value of the licence fee to consumers alongside the cost of other sources of news and entertainment. It further notes the significant proportion of viewers that lack the means, or do not wish, to pay for any video service beyond the cost of the licence fee.       

While a subscription model has been mooted as an alternative to the licence fee, recent volatility in the market has magnified concerns around the sustainability of the streaming model, and while growing penetration and investment in content by these services remains impressive, there is less certainty around the future plurality and distinctiveness of these platforms, and the related cost to subscribers.

Digital pioneer Viaplay has been leading NENT’s exemplary transition from linear to on-demand with sustained revenue and subscriber growth—unlike its pay-TV peers

These results have been leveraged to tell capital markets a Netflix-like equity story, underpinning ambitious growth targets to 2025 for the Nordics and new launches abroad, including the UK this year (albeit in low-key mode)

Expansion builds on a pivot to fixed costs originals and multi-territory sports rights. But, in highly competitive markets, we are sceptical of NENT’s capacity to generate the revenues necessary to breakeven with fast rising content costs

European mobile revenue growth was zero for the third successive quarter with better mobility but less roaming upside, some B2B weakness, and stronger competitive intensity in the Italian and Spanish markets

Q1 should evidence some similar trends but the impact of out-of-contract notifications will begin to emerge and roaming looks set to become a significant boost from Q2

Consolidation fever continues to dominate the headlines though this is set against a backdrop of considerable uncertainty regarding regulatory approval