Channel 4

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  • June 27, 2019

    2019 UK TV advertising backstopped by Brexit

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    We expect total TV ad revenues to decline 3.3% in H1 2019, partly due to a return to Earth following the idyllic conditions of the World Cup in June 2018. Bad omens for advertising for H2 include the sagging economy since April and the Government’s impetus to achieve Brexit on 31 October, with or without a deal. Our forecast remains a 3% decline for total TV ad revenues for 2019 as a whole, with the risk of a more serious downturn in 2020 in the wake of Brexit.
  • June 5, 2019

    UK HFSS advertising ban consultation

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    The UK government is now consulting on a wider TV advertising ban until 9pm for food and drink high in fat, salt and sugar (HFSS), to combat childhood obesity. TV and TV advertising are not the cause of children being overweight or obese (O+O). Policy change in this area should inform and educate parents and young children, as they have in Leeds and Amsterdam. With 64% of the UK population being O+O, obesity is a complex societal issue requiring a multifaceted approach. The evidence from existing rules, and plummeting TV viewing amongst children, says that further restrictions on TV advertising will be ineffective in curbing the rise of obesity in the UK.
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    February 1, 2019

    Netflix’s local content push in the UK

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    With the UK perhaps Netflix’s most valuable market outside the US—home to a stellar production sector—the streaming service is escalating its foray into local production, opening a content hub in London and moving from co-productions to direct commissions. As UK content completely dominates UK video viewing outside of the SVODs, to expand subscription reach Netflix is endeavouring to become an alternative to the PSBs’ entertainment output; this local spend is efficient given the universality and worldwide appetite for British content. With a growing proportion of local content expenditure now coming from Netflix and other SVODs, there are ramifications for both broadcasters and producers—loss of viewing, potential market pressure, increased competition for premium content and hesitancy around their own SVOD plans—along with implications for the cultural landscape.
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  • January 21, 2019

    UK advertising spend: Brexit year forecasts

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    Our central case forecast with orderly EU withdrawal predicts 2.7% growth for total UK advertising spend, down from 4.7% in 2018. We have a no-deal Brexit scenario that predicts a smaller advertising recession than in 2009, with total ad spend declining 3% and display down 5.3% in 2019. The total advertising figures partly mask the pressure on UK consumers, through an expansion of the measured advertising spend universe. This is due to significant self-serve online advertising growth by SMEs, and non-advertising marketing budgets moving to online advertising platforms. In a downturn, we’d expect advertisers to become more tactical, which would disproportionally affect display media including TV, which is further affected by declining commercial impacts among younger adults. Search and social advertising would see only small growth through the first year of a recession.
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  • December 12, 2018

    UK TV advertising and consumer health check in Q4 2018

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    Despite the consumer's confidence having been shaken since the referendum vote for Brexit in June 2016, monthly retail sales, especially online, managed to grow above the private consumption trend until this October, a turning point that could mark the start of a retail recession extending into 2019. Since mid-2016, TV advertising and retailing have lost their historical covariance, with TV advertising's recession briefly interrupted in the first half of the year due to sunny weather and the FIFA World Cup. After a flat Q3, we predict a resumption of TV advertising's decline, expected to be down 3-4% in Q4 2018 year-on-year. 2018 will be flat for total TV advertising, still better than 2017. However, the medium's weakness will persist in the first half of 2019, with hopes for a recovery only in the second half, assuming an orderly withdrawal from the EU starts in March 2019.
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  • November 16, 2018

    UK PSB SVOD

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    The Public Service Broadcasters (PSBs) have been mulling a possible SVOD service, a decade after their ad-supported Project Kangaroo was blocked on competition grounds. Even if a reboot between the BBC and ITV were this time to be approved, we do not think Kangaroo 2 can succeed as a significant SVOD entrant in its home turf of the UK, above all because it’s too late. Other flaws in the offer are that it would be too small, non-premium, too old (archive), and too old (viewing profile), plus lacking sufficient financial resource to produce a pipeline of unique series.
  • November 2, 2018

    UK PSB solidarity and collaboration

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    The Public Service Broadcasters (PSBs) are in the process of sliding from TV dominance to middling contenders, in terms of content expenditure and significance to viewers. There are calls from many sides that the PSBs need to collaborate in order to thrive, in an era when global debt-funded SVOD services are making all the running. This note explores what can realistically be achieved by PSB collaboration; where partnerships work best; and the areas best avoided.  
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  • July 24, 2018

    AV ad measurement: meretricious metrics

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    Rigour and consistency in AV ad metrics is proving elusive. A 10-second ad on YouTube, ITV1, All4, MailOnline, Sky AdSmart or Facebook is measured in as many different ways, often indifferently. It is tricky, costly or impossible for agencies/advertisers to comprehend the overall picture. Google/YouTube seems to be ‘getting’ JIC co-operation now and has begun to galvanise video ad measurement, but forceful advertiser intervention is needed to extend and improve standards. Otherwise, advertisers are simply funding a JIC-free jamboree, and they (with content media) will lose the most.
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  • 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 29, 2018

    Is CRR still critical to protect advertisers from ITV?

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    The workings of the TV advertising market are a mystery to most. Overlaying an arcane ‘share of broadcast spend’ trading mechanism is regulation in the form of CRR, which has prevented anti-competitive activity by ITV since 2003. CRR will protect advertisers ‘for as long as needed’. Most advertisers we canvassed believe it should stay in place, but the sell-side and auditors say CRR has passed its ‘Best before’ date and is heading towards its ‘Use by’ date. We propose a review of CRR by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to determine whether it is now helping or hindering the TV advertising ecosystem to become fit-for-purpose for the digital age.
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  • June 28, 2018

    The home screen: distribution, discovery and data on connected TV [...]

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    The TV, the main screen in the house, is rapidly becoming connected to the internet, opening a new front in the battle for people's attention. Tech players, pay-TV operators, and manufacturers are all aiming to control the user interface, ad delivery and data collection, leaving incumbent broadcaster interests less well represented. To protect their position, and the principles of public service broadcasting, broadcasters will have to work with each other at home and in Europe to leverage their content and social importance.  
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  • March 19, 2018

    UK addressable TV has more to deliver, while online video posts r [...]

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    The market for addressable TV looks constrained despite its benefits, with Sky AdSmart taking less than 2% of overall TV ad revenues. Meanwhile, online video revenues for Google, Facebook and others have surged dramatically. Agencies are seemingly enraptured by online video – a highly profitable medium to buy – despite concerns about a lack of effectiveness, safety and transparency. For broadcasters to compete better radical collaborative action is needed including industry-wide adoption of AdSmart, and overhauling the trading arrangements which hinder its take-up.
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  • February 19, 2018

    Advertising: this year, next year

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    We forecast UK display adspend to grow by 3.1% in 2018 (<1% in nominal terms), with TV roughly steady, newspaper decline slowing and digital growth slowing a little. Households are facing an income squeeze and the ability of debt and credit to carry them over is reaching its sensible limit. Brexit-related uncertainties remain the single strongest drag on business investment, dampening ad spend. TV spend is the £5bn question. While live viewing continues to decline, TV delivers against different marketing objectives from precisely targeted online inventory, and rapid broadcaster VOD growth will help hold TV spend steady.
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    January 9, 2018

    Video on demand insights: Netflix, Amazon and the iPlayer

    Even with the decline in linear television viewing, online video remains a small component of total video consumption. The growth area is unsurprisingly SVOD; subscription video now makes up about two thirds of the UK's digital video spend. Netflix is moving from an aggregator of content to a "channel" in its own right, increasing proportionate spend on original programming, something that the public service broadcasters are unable to do for differing reasons. Amazon had a tough 2017 for video, and are still struggling to create a hit. New Nielsen audience data suggests that the long-term "library value" of Netflix's originals may be overstated, while the BBC's iPlayer continues to be hampered by not really having a library at all.    
  • December 5, 2017

    Channel 5: three years on from Viacom’s acquisition

    Viacom’s 2014 acquisition of Channel 5 from Richard Desmond’s Northern & Shell occurred while the maelstrom encircling linear television viewing—sparked by the allure of SVODs and other digital distractions—was well underway. Nevertheless, with increased content spend, development of new titles and clarity as to its targeted audience, the broadcaster has increased its channel (and group) share amongst 16-34s and ABC1s, and has directed further benefits back to its owner's existing entertainment suite. Outside of the post-lunch and 8-10pm slots, however, work needs to be done: Channel 5’s BVOD proposition and social media offering leaves much to be desired, while the reliance on two major titles, Big Brother and Neighbours will be unsustainable in a post-linear world.
  • November 13, 2017

    PSB: Working with the frenemy

    Public service broadcasting (PSB) and the entire unique broadcasting ecosystem face huge challenges from global tech giants with deep pockets, data insights and scant regard for PSB prominence. All three pillars of the PSB model are threatened: content supply, distribution and advertising. The further threat of digital terrestrial TV (DTT) spectrum being reduced or turned off in c.2030 is real and PSBs must have a migration path in place. PSBs can counter some challenges through increased investment in content relevant to the UK consumer. But, recognising the aligned interests with pay-TV platforms of Sky and Virgin Media, collaboration between the parties is integral to the long-term future of PSB
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  • Mounting risks to marketing effectiveness
    Mounting risks to marketing effectiveness
    October 20, 2017

    US ISPs hail the end of online privacy rules

    The Federal Communications Commission’s Privacy Order (FCC) was overturned by the Senate, clearing the way for ISPs to ramp up consumer data-driven advertising revenue. While Google and Facebook dominate digital advertising in the US as in other markets, the US is alone in removing regulatory barriers to ISPs taking a piece of the pie. US ISPs now have a self-regulatory regime for consumer rights on transparency, security and data breaches; but in the UK and EU, privacy advocates prefer enforceable rights
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    October 17, 2017

    News and Facebook

    Even though Facebook is not a producer of news, 6.5 million UK internet users claim to mainly source their news from the platform. Posts and shares by friends in the user's network, in the context of Facebook's algorithm, determine the order of stories in the personalised News Feed, removing the control of the news agenda that publishers have for their websites. Premium publishers operating a paywall (The Times, The Financial Times) have a lower key approach to Facebook than publishers generating advertising revenue from referral traffic to their websites or from on-platform consumption of Instant Articles. The latter will seek to stimulate social media engagement, optimising stories through attention-grabbing headlines, and installing Facebook’s share and like buttons on their websites. Case studies of the news stories that were prominent on Facebook (measured by likes, comments and shares) in the periods leading up to the Brexit Referendum and General Election 2017 votes respectively demonstrate that newspaper brands (the Express for Brexit, and The Guardian for the General Election) achieved the highest reach on Facebook during these periods, despite being ranked below other news brands (BBC in particular) in terms of traffic to their websites
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    September 25, 2017

    Netflix’s edge over broadcasters

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    The development and utilisation of streaming technologies has allowed major SVODs, such as Netflix and Amazon, to attain a growing proportion of video viewing. However, tech is just one of the advantages held by these services: plateauing content expenditure, the inability to retain IP and inconsistent regulatory regimes hamper the efforts of the UK’s public service broadcasters. The localised nature of audience tastes, as well as the diversity of PSB offerings remain a bulwark to aid in the retention of relevance but content spend cannot lag
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    August 16, 2017

    Channel 4 relocation and dislocation

    Channel 4 revenues and content spend hit record levels in 2016, but the company faces a declining TV advertising market in 2017 due to a weaker economy and competition. The company’s ability to deliver its unique remit to audiences and producers is also under pressure from Government proposals to move staff outside London. Because Channel 4 can only commission, a move will not stimulate a creative cluster. Risks to the remit include the loss of talent and lower content spend due to higher opex
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    July 24, 2017

    Channel 4 set for the future: 2016 annual report

    2016 has seen Channel 4 break new records in growing revenues and investing in content origination, whilst making further progress in delivering its remit and maintaining audience share for its main channel. However, the second half of 2016 and early months of this year promise a significantly tougher 2017 as the economic and TV advertising climate has worsened and the future is clouded with uncertainties. Channel 4 nonetheless starts from a relatively strong position financially and we expect it to be well capable of sustaining its remit under the leadership of its new CEO Alex Mahon, though much hinges on the outcome of the Government consultation on relocation
  • Retransmission fees back on the burner
    Retransmission fees back on the burner
    July 21, 2017

    Retransmission fees back on the burner

    The debate over the entitlement of free-to-air PSBs to retransmission fees from pay-TV platforms has simmered for the last few years, yet promises to boil over once the Digital Economy Act 2017 (DEA 2017) comes into force; as expected in late July/early August. The repeal of section 73 of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 (CDPA 1988) has removed a barrier to negotiations between the PSBs and the cable operator Virgin Media over retransmission fees, seen by some as the thin end of a wedge for obtaining such fees across all pay-TV platforms. However, pressing for retransmission fees could have the opposite effect of what the PSBs – in particular the commercial PSBs – wish for, threatening as it does to undermine the principles of universality and free access at the point of use, so long the bedrock of public service broadcasting in the UK.

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  • July 12, 2017

    Cometh the hour for the commercial PSBs

    The first half of 2017 has seen the announced departure of three CEOs from the commercial PSBs within the space of less than two months: David Abraham of Channel 4 (14th March), Rob Woodward of STV (25th April) and lastly Adam Crozier of ITV (3rd May). Responding to the challenges of digital switchover and the advertising recession of 2008/09, as well as their own specific company issues, one of the first tasks for all three CEOs has been to raise staff morale. The last seven to ten years may have been taxing at times. The next seven to ten promise to be no easier, and may yet be harder, as the successor CEOs chart their way through the continuing transformation of the UK digital landscape

  • European scripted content - Rising demand and consolidation
    European scripted content - Rising demand and consolidation
    July 11, 2017

    European scripted content

    The US scripted content boom is spilling over into Europe: Free-to-air TV drama ratings have proven resilient but as costs and audience expectations have risen budgets are under pressure, necessitating flexible co-financing arrangements with American broadcasters, and Netflix and Amazon. Pay channels have boosted output—with uneven results. Long-term IP control is a key factor behind independent production consolidation, led by broadcasters seeking a secure stream of content and diversification away from advertising. Notable developments include the new wave of Berlin-based, internationally-financed series, the rise of domestic French content and Sky Italia’s edgy originals, Telefónica’s giant leap into Spanish dramas, and the continuation of Britain as an export powerhouse.

  • May 3, 2017

    People, not devices: Audience buying in a cross-device world

    Cross-device identity profiles are used to stitch together fragmenting online ad audiences, but also to enable new links between advertising and marketing, across European markets. This moves value from media itself to understanding each consumer and how they access content and services on proliferating connected devices. By 2020 we predict that 58% of all UK online ad buys by value will make use of high-quality audience IDs, led by the largest advertising platforms but limited by privacy regulation and cost.