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    June 17, 2019

    UK mobile market Q1 2019 – Pressure to mount after mixed bag in [...]

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    The UK mobile market posted its slowest growth in more than two years this quarter; just 0.5% service revenue growth although net adds were strong and churn was down. ARPU is under considerable pressure thanks to regulation limiting out-of-bundle spend which will exacerbate as the year progresses. Several other negative developments look set to be layered on the pressures this quarter, including a step-up in competitive intensity as 5G launches –  with H3G’s pricing of unlimited data a sign of a resurgence in its aggression
  • May 27, 2019

    BT UK: Promising future, but investment required

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    BT is accelerating its ‘full fibre’ rollout, likely due to a combination of a successful build to date, very promising regulatory developments, and (let’s not deny it) worrying competitor build plans. Full year results were a little weak versus consensus, with guidance a little soft as well, leading to questions of how this can be funded, particularly the roll-out acceleration from 2021/22 to cover half the country by the mid-2020. Whatever the funding mechanism, we regard the investment as sound, with BT’s planned operational transformation also promising but potentially requiring further upfront investment
  • April 23, 2019

    5G to change the shape of UK mobile

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    The capacity boost with 5G will be more important than any speed or latency uplift. We estimate a 7-fold increase in mobile capacity in the UK and 13x+ for O2 and H3G. We view fixed mobile substitution products as quite niche although the number of mobile-only households is likely to creep up. mmWave would have the capacity to substitute for fixed but has many hurdles to overcome. Capacity-constraints have tempered competition of late and their removal risks an increase in intensity, especially as H3G views itself as sub-scale – good for policy makers but another challenge to add to the industry’s woes.
  • April 8, 2019

    The North heads south: European mobile in Q4 2018

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    European mobile service revenue growth dropped to -1.3% – its lowest level in three years – particularly disappointing as growth should be bouncing back post-EU roaming tariff cuts. Having enjoyed relatively favourable dynamics in 2018, the UK and Germany are facing marked changes in momentum from here. Regulation limiting intra-EU call prices could hit hard – up to 6% of revenues and 20% of EBITDA in the UK, although other EU countries may be less exposed due to lower tariffs currently.
  • April 2, 2019

    UK broadband, telephony and pay TV trends Q4 2018

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    Market revenue growth accelerated to 3% in Q4, but it might never reach this level again, being helped by a never-to-be-repeated BT overlapping price rise. With price rises becoming more challenging in general, and superfast pricing under pressure in particular, maintaining/increasing ARPUs is becoming more difficult despite superfast volumes surging. Openreach’s ultrafast roll-out has accelerated, challenging Virgin Media and bringing the prospect of further price premia, but perhaps too late to be of significant benefit in 2019.
  • March 28, 2019

    UK mobile market Q4 2018: Headwinds gathering for 2019

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    Following record growth last quarter, the UK mobile market took a step down to just 0.9% growth in the quarter to December on the back of increasing pressure in the business market and the impact of out-of-bundle limits. 2019 looks set to be a tough year for the sector with: a series of potentially painful regulatory hits; markedly lower price rises than last year; and early signs of a degree of creeping competitive intensity. We view 5G as a much-needed means of expanding capacity in the sector with upsides from M2M and IoT likely to remain relatively small.
  • March 20, 2019

    Virgin Media UK: proceeding with caution as speed advantage comes [...]

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    After strong underlying 2018 results, the more subdued outlook for 2019 is an important shift, driven by regulatory pressure on mobile, higher programming costs, one-offs and softening demand. Lightning is continuing to drive market share gains in new build areas, and should provide a 2ppt tailwind to revenue growth in 2019, but enhanced visibility on the economics of rollout suggests that its conservative approach is a wise one. In existing build areas, Virgin Media is facing-off pricing pressure from TalkTalk on high speed, and potentially from BT on even higher ultrafast speeds, with it moderating pricing and launching a market-beating 500Mbps product in Spring 2019 in response.
  • February 22, 2019

    BT Global Services: Playing a bad hand as well as it can

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    BTGS’s strategic plan seems like a sensible move in a very challenging market but it heralds its transition to a new operating model where its competitive advantage is largely eroded, its addressable market squeezed and it is arguably sub-scale. Although hybrid infrastructure and revenues from transition to cloud-based IT will provide something of a cushion, guidance and consensus forecasts are too optimistic in our view – cost-cutting plans are therefore likely deficient. Longer term, with IT services increasingly easy for corporates to manage themselves, diminished appetite for hybrid networks and global giants such as Amazon, Microsoft and Google squeezing out the middle-man, the space that BTGS occupies is likely to be considerably smaller.
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  • February 21, 2019

    BT Q3 2018/19 results: Openreach stronger than it looks, but Cons [...]

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    BT’s Q3 results were a little mixed, with mobile particularly weak, but the company remains on track to meet/exceed its (fairly conservative) guidance for the current year, and hit (modest) consensus expectations for 2019/20. Openreach was very weak at the headline level (-9%), but stripping out an accounting effect and internal revenue the division grew by 2% by our estimates despite significant price cuts, and full fibre roll-out is progressing well. While Openreach should accelerate this year, Consumer will be hit by a price rise holiday and slowing mobile, with investors likely having to wait for existing sports rights contracts to play out to see significant profitability improvement.
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  • European mobile in Q4 2016
    European mobile in Q4 2016
    January 10, 2019

    UK broadband, telephony and pay TV trends Q3 2018

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    Broadband market volume growth resumed its downward trend in the September quarter after a blip in the previous quarter that was likely caused by a wholesale transfer distorting the figures. Revenue growth, however, perked up to 1.9% from 1.7% in the previous quarter, an encouraging recovery especially given that it was not primarily driven by the timing of a price increase. ARPU growth improved across all four of the major operators, countering recent trends, with a focus on higher value offerings a common theme. High speed broadband adoption accelerated in the quarter across most operators, encouraged by Openreach’s volume discount offer, although this was partially driven by keener high speed pricing. Revenue growth at Virgin Media, Sky and TalkTalk converged at around 3%, with BT Consumer lagging at -1%. However, excluding the effect of BT’s shrinking telephony-only base and smoothing the sporadic boost of its 9-monthly price rise, BT Consumer’s revenue is in the middle of the pack at 3.0%      
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  • December 14, 2018

    UK mobile market Q3 2018

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    UK mobile market service revenue grew by 2.4% in Q3, a level not seen since early 2011. However, this 0.6ppt improvement on the growth rate in Q2 was very disappointing in the context of an expected 2-3ppt revenue growth bolster from the annualisation of roaming tariff cuts. EE and O2 shared the top spot for growth, more than double the growth rate of H3G and far ahead of Vodafone which remains in negative territory and had only the slightest uptick this quarter. O2 is likely to be hit by its well-publicised network blackout in December, but experience from a similar problem back in 2012 suggests this will be modest and temporary, and it is otherwise performing well.
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  • November 20, 2018

    BT Q2 2018/19 results: Beating expectations, guidance still look [...]

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    BT’s Q2 results were well ahead of both its full year guidance run-rate and financial market expectations, with revenue flat and EBITDA up 3% versus guidance and consensus at -2% for both metrics. Operating metrics were more mixed, with broadband churn high and (our estimate of) net adds low, but fixed ARPU was solid, backed up by rapid adoption of BT Plus, fibre adoption re-accelerated and mobile was strong across all metrics. While part of the outperformance was likely due to H1/H2 phasing, it also reflects fairly conservative expectations and a solid operating performance, and hence full year guidance still looks very beatable, with a positive outlook beyond this.
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  • October 11, 2018

    UK Esports & broadcasters: No game for old players

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    Drawn by its rapid growth and enviably youthful audience profile, incumbent broadcasters are paying increased attention to esports and its followers. Viewership of esports on UK broadcasters’ linear channels is low, with consumption on their online platforms likely the same. The market’s fragmented nature and global audience, along with the dominance of Twitch—and to a lesser extent YouTube—makes this unlikely to change. Broadcasters’ low-cost approach has primarily benefited competition organisers and games publishers. For broadcasters to create real revenues, massive upfront investment would be needed, with the risk of failure high.
  • September 17, 2018

    UK Broadcast TV is growing very old, very quickly

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    UK mobile market service revenue grew by 1.7% in Q2, up from 1.3% in the previous quarter, a disappointing result in the context of boosts from both IFRS 15 accounting and the annual price rises in the quarter. O2 was the star performer this quarter, with its service revenue growth leaping ahead to claim the top spot. BT/EE’s service revenue growth declined on an underlying basis, with weak contract net adds over the last six months catching up with it, and H3G and Vodafone were slightly improved and steady respectively excluding some one-off effects. Next quarter, the impact from the EU roaming cuts will annualise out, providing a substantial fillip to all operators. Ceteris paribus, this would put market growth in the vicinity of 4%, a figure not reached for years.
  • September 11, 2018

    UK mobile market Q2 2018: Disappointment before dawn

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    UK mobile market service revenue grew by 1.7% in Q2, up from 1.3% in the previous quarter, a disappointing result in the context of boosts from both IFRS 15 accounting and the annual price rises in the quarter. O2 was the star performer this quarter, with its service revenue growth leaping ahead to claim the top spot. BT/EE’s service revenue growth declined on an underlying basis, with weak contract net adds over the last six months catching up with it, and H3G and Vodafone were slightly improved and steady respectively excluding some one-off effects. Next quarter, the impact from the EU roaming cuts will annualise out, providing a substantial fillip to all operators. Ceteris paribus, this would put market growth in the vicinity of 4%, a figure not reached for years.
  • August 29, 2018

    UK broadband, telephony and pay TV trends Q2 2018: Great volume, [...]

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    The UK broadband subscription market re-accelerated in the June quarter, bucking a consistent downwards trend that has been established for over three years, with line rental and pay TV subscriptions also accelerating having both also experienced a more general downwards shift over the last few years. The broadband acceleration may be short-lived, with line rental only a little more sustainable. Pay TV is perhaps the most robust recovery given that the over-the-top new entrants (primarily Netflix and Amazon) are now firmly establishing themselves as add-ons not substitutes.Revenue growth however took a more familiar path, dipping to 1.6% from 2.8% in  the previous quarter, as BT’s overlapping price increase predictably dropped out, partially mitigated by an improvement in ARPU growth at TalkTalk caused by an improved (i.e. slightly less damaging) mix effect.  
  • August 7, 2018

    BT Q1 2018/19 results: On target in the short term, making progre [...]

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    BT’s Q1 results were fairly robust given a number of one-offs hitting in the quarter, with revenue growth of -2% in line with full year guidance, EBITDA growth of 1% ahead of plan, and a number of metrics looking promising. Openreach’s newly announced volume discount plans offer advantages in growing high and higher speed volumes, infrastructure competitiveness and regulatory pricing pressure, while giving up little in external revenue, a win-win-win for BT at least. Full-fibre regulation appears to be slowly moving towards more clarity, but is still far too unclear to justify an accelerated investment, with critical issues being ducked (for now) by government and Ofcom alike.  
  • July 26, 2018

    The drive for convergence: a value-destructive strategy

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    Many European telecoms operators are pursuing a fixed/mobile convergence strategy on the pretext that the addition of mobile reduces churn. We see no evidence of churn reduction from this strategy. Discounts required to encourage take-up of fixed/mobile services are often value-destructive, even before competitor reaction: a 10% bundle discount necessitates a 2ppt improvement in churn to wash its face economically. M&A premia on the basis of convergence synergies raise the hurdle even higher. Most UK operators offer very limited discounts on fixed/mobile bundles for now, sensibly focusing on enhanced services. Vodafone is the most aggressive, albeit less so than it is elsewhere. All UK players should hope that it stays this way.
  • TV platform forecasts to 2026: DTT and pay-lite set to grow
    TV platform forecasts to 2026: DTT and pay-lite set to grow
    July 13, 2018

    UK TV platform forecasts to 2022: stability rules

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    Despite significant changes in people’s video viewing habits over the last few years, the TV platform landscape has appeared to reach an equilibrium. We expect pay-TV to retain its utility status for most existing customers. At the margins, movement from Sky and Virgin Media to free-to-air or pay-lite services will be mitigated by population growth. The excitable growth phases for Netflix and Amazon are likely to be over, but they have carved out prominent positions in the market. Meanwhile, the uncomplicated allure of free TV remains strong for half the UK.
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  • June 20, 2018

    European mobile in Q1 2018: North–South divide to exacerbate

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    In this report we show our analysis of revenue growth trends for mobile operators in the top five European markets (UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain). The historical analysis is based on the published results of the operators, although they include our estimates where their data is inconsistent or incomplete, and we have updated previous period figures where better information has come to light. A copy of the underlying data in spreadsheet format is available to our subscription clients on request.
  • June 14, 2018

    UK broadband, telephony and pay TV trends Q1 2018: Diverging stra [...]

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    UK residential communications market revenue growth strengthened in Q1, but this was entirely driven by an overlapping price increase from BT, and the decline in market volume growth continues. Continued pressure on both subscriber volume growth and ARPU has led to diverging strategies, with most operators focused on sustaining ARPU, but TalkTalk chasing volumes at the low end, with the former approach currently proving more successful. Looking forward, the benefit of BT’s price rise will fall away completely next quarter and market revenue growth will likely resume its downward trend, but the nadir may be within sight if the flight to quality persists at most operators  
  • TV platform forecasts to 2026: DTT and pay-lite set to grow
    TV platform forecasts to 2026: DTT and pay-lite set to grow
    June 11, 2018

    Disruption in Premier League football? 2018 auction finally over

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    The latest auction of live Premier League broadcast rights commencing in 2019/20 has concluded at last, with three different winners for the first time. The total sum has not been confirmed, but it looks to be down c. 10% from the previous auction at £1.55 billion per season—still substantial, and not far off the BBC’s entire TV content budget. As we predicted, Sky and BT remain dominant, winning 180 of the 200 games per season, whilst new entrant Amazon picked up one of the leftover packages at what looks to be a very low price.  
  • May 31, 2018

    French, Spanish and Italian telcos won’t bankroll further footb [...]

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    The rights auction for France’s Ligue 1 will be held on 29 May. With Altice’s struggling subsidiary SFR unlikely to bid, Canal+ and BeIN Sports may not offer enough to meet reserve prices, triggering a postponement of the auction. In Spain, stiff fixed-line competition is shifting battlegrounds from football to scripted content. The Champions League has yet to sign up a platform for next season, while the upcoming 2019-22 La Liga rights auction may well fail to increase domestic revenues. With just 12 weeks before next season kicks off, Italy’s Serie A is also yet to secure a broadcaster, although we expect the league to back down and settle with Sky. In this deflationary environment, top clubs are eyeing a new Club Word Cup as an extra revenue stream – running the risk of further widening the financial chasm between themselves and smaller clubs.    
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  • May 30, 2018

    BT new Consumer strategy: Converging, but in a good way

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    BT has emphasised ‘convergence’ in its new Consumer strategy, but it has avoided most of the usual fixed-mobile convergence mistakes, with separate brands, minimal discounting and only slightly flawed converged products. The general strategy is to improve customer service to improve market share trends (particularly in broadband), enable premium products/positioning, and allow for cross-selling of a strong set of converged (in a broader sense) products, which is very sensible in our view. It does require extra spending in the short-term to improve customer service and the perception thereof (particularly in broadband) before premium positioning and cross-selling can be effective, therefore improved trends at the bottom line may take some time to come through.