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  • July 16, 2019

    Future of UK Public Service Media: EPG prominence to the fore

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    Ofcom’s recommendations to Government suggest updating EPG prominence legislation to cover connected TVs, and were warmly welcomed by the PSBs. Balancing various commercial, PSB and consumer interests will be key; determining what content qualifies for prominence will be a particularly thorny issue to resolve. Extending prominence to smart TVs and streaming sticks is critical, but implementation will be challenging
  • February 11, 2019

    UK TV set viewing trends: linear audiences tumble in 2018

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    2018 was another bad year for traditional TV set viewing of broadcast channels, with a 5% decline year-on-year—its steepest since 2011. The decline accelerated among most demographics, but particularly for 16-34s, down 13% YOY from their already relatively low levels of TV viewing. Unmatched use, which includes viewing to Netflix, Amazon and YouTube, continues to grow, up 16% YOY, with both linear viewing and unmatched use becoming increasingly solitary activities. While heavier linear TV viewers are accounting for a greater proportion of linear TV viewing, it is the lighter TV viewers that are accounting for a greater proportion of unmatched use. Within the broadcast ecosystem, ITV had the strongest 2018 thanks to the FIFA World Cup, more Coronation Street, and Love Island. Most other broadcasters struggled in terms of viewing share, but the maturity of the market means major shifts continue to be rare.
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  • April 12, 2018

    TV set viewing trends: ‘Unmatched’ viewing growth and cha [...]

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    Despite the continued decline of linear TV set viewing through 2017 (-4%) and the first 12 weeks of 2018 (-3%), overall TV set usage remains flat at 4 hours/day due to the continued rise of unmatched activities (+19% in both cases). We consider the recent growth of unmatched use to be predominantly due to viewing of online-only services (i.e. Netflix, Amazon and YouTube), since time spent gaming is unlikely to have changed dramatically. The increase in unmatched usage since 2014 exceeds the total viewing to the most-watched broadcast channels for all age groups under 35. Within the shrinking pie of consolidated TV set viewing, market shares remain broadly flat. However, several key digital channels have shown surprising signs of recent decline, reflecting stalling growth from the multichannel long tail versus the main PSB channels.
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  • December 1, 2017

    UK TV set viewing trends

    BARB data indicates that the amount of average daily TV set viewing to linear TV channels is continuing to fall: the pie is shrinking. Just under 20% of TV set usage so far in 2017 is to non-linear activity, and viewing to SVOD services and YouTube is likely to account for most of this growth in 'unmatched' viewing. The pie is shrinking faster amongst younger audiences: just under one third of TV set usage is 'unmatched' now for 16-34s. However 35+ unmatched use is growing at a faster rate than 16-34 unmatched use in 2017. Within this smaller pie, the PSB channels continue to hold share of viewing against pay channels. Within the PSBs, ITV and the ITV digital channel family have gained most share so far this year, although BBC1 is having a strong autumn in spite of the loss of Great British Bake Off to C4.
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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
  • April 20, 2015

    Free-to-air TV business models

    Prospects for European free-to-air commercial broadcasters are clouded by a weak advertising recovery, decline in TV set viewing by younger age groups and increased competition from pay-TV and international operators. Growth opportunities are nevertheless to be found in fine tuning families of channels to sustain audience shares, increased production of differentiating original content, wider HD and catch-up programmes distribution and smart pay-TV developments – broadcasters must focus on strengthening the quality gap between the TV set experience and online entertainment. ITV has shown the greatest increase in profitability, benefitting from its global production strategy. RTL and ProSiebenSat.1 have a modest upside from carriage fees for HD channels but production and pay-TV initiatives have yet to pay off. TF1 and M6 have withdrawn from pay-TV and face regulatory obstacles to launching channels and production investments. Mediaset in Italy should benefit from the ad market stabilising, but risks large pay-TV losses. In Spain, Mediaset and Atresmedia enjoy an ad boom.

  • Pay-TV Market Outlook – the growing importance of Pay-lite
    Pay-TV Market Outlook – the growing importance of Pay-lite
    January 15, 2015

    Multichannel TV facing the squeeze – Part 2

    For the second year running, 2014 has seen a steep year-on-year decline in total daily average viewing time, which fell by almost 5%, and was again, as in 2013, greatest among younger age demos, especially among children aged 4-15 where the decline reached double figures. Connectivity and the rapidly growing population of smartphones and tablets appear the main, though not the only, causes of a decline that appears general across the main PSB, PSB family and non-PSB channel groups. The decline nevertheless varies by channel genre, with the more youth oriented, such as Children and Music, feeling the connectivity squeeze the most. Whilst the great majority of non-PSB channels are only available on the pay-TV platforms, the DTT platform provides a significant audience and advertising contribution (ballpark estimate of £150-200 million per annum) to the relatively small group of leading free-to-air non-PSB channels, which are also less constrained in developing their online initiatives than the mixed advertising/subscription non-PSB channels on the pay-TV platforms.
  • December 9, 2014

    UK advertising expenditure forecast 2014-2016

    2014 has been a good year for total advertising, which we forecast to grow by 5.5% across the year; display advertising spend is also forecast to grow by over 6% year-on-year. This is largely thanks to a positive economic backdrop, where we have seen a significant rise in consumer expenditure over the last two years. Online advertising spend has been the biggest recipient of growing ad spend, with 20+% growth last year, this year and next. This has mostly been to the detriment of print revenues, where online classified search solutions, amongst other factors like declining circulation, have disrupted print marketplaces. Video has been the largest growth area in internet advertising as online video consumption increases. Up to now online spend has largely been accretive to TV budgets but we are starting to see some advertisers switch to online video spend. However we do not expect TV to suffer in the same way as press.

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    October 14, 2014

    Retransmission fees

    ITV and Channel 4 have asked the regulatory authorities to review the case for legislation that would for the first time allow the commercial PSBs to charge carriage fees for their main free-to-air channels on the pay-TV platforms. To this end, ITV has presented a detailed analysis showing the great contribution to the US creative economy due to the introduction of Retransmission Consent Compensation for free-to-air broadcasters in the US, but without setting this against the very different market structure in the UK, where the commercial PSBs enjoy significant privileges. Any change to UK rules will require primary legislation and is not expected until after the May 2015 General Election. Should action be taken, the choice appears to lie between regulation (adding “must carry” rules) and deregulation of commercial PSB privileges, where the end result might not be what the PSBs wished.
  • May 1, 2014

    Channel 5 sold

    Northern & Shell has concluded the sale of the Channel 5 Group for the price of £450 million, a little over midway between the £103 million spent on acquiring Channel 5 from RTL in 2010 and the quoted target price of £700 million at the beginning of the year. Channel 5's fourth place in the strong and buoyant UK advertising market, its PSB privileges and current audience and operating performance make it a rare and attractive opportunity for US groups like Viacom seeking to expand their international footprint. Among the challenges facing Viacom are the integration of the free-to-air Channel 5 Group reaching a broad audience with its own largely pay-TV channels aimed at the younger age groups. In the process, we expect Viacom to deepen its ties with Sky, including advertising sales, where further consolidation appears likely.

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  • January 20, 2014

    What should the BBC be for?

    The Charter Review of the BBC officially opened with the Culture, Media and Sport Committee's inquiry into the Future of the BBC asking the question “What should the BBC be for and what should be the purpose of public service broadcasting?”. The only obvious answer is that the BBC and public service broadcasting should be for the people of Britain, and the BBC rates highly on different measures of public and audience engagement. The BBC plays an irreplaceable role in the supply of PSB programming that UK audiences appreciate, most importantly news, where the BBC accounts for 70% of TV news time and for 22% of online news time in 2013.

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    June 23, 2013

    General and PSB viewing trends

    The amount and distribution by time of day of TV viewing, as well as the PSB group viewing shares have remained notably stable over the last ten years in which the major shift from analogue to digital transmissions has occurred and timeshift/catch-up viewing has become commonplace. The topline trends nevertheless mask significant age-related under-currents of change, which have seen a large loss of younger audiences and sharply ageing profiles for BBC1, BBC2 and ITV. Whilst the more youth-oriented Channel 4 has avoided the ageing profile effect, it faces its own challenge of averting audience decline, as it finds itself at the sharp end of change among younger adults and faces declining support among older viewers.

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  • November 28, 2012

    TV advertising forecasts: 2012 – 2017

    2012 has been a year of two halves, with TV NAR up by 2-3% in H1, plus the feel good factor of the Diamond Jubilee and London Olympics, but down by 1-1.5% across the full year as economic conditions have worsened in H2 2013 and 2014 promise to be especially taxing times with significant downside risks due to weakness in the economy, the squeeze on consumer disposable income and beginnings of real fiscal austerity On the upside, we expect negative structural pressures, caused by increases in CI delivery and online growth, to subside and conditions to improve from 2015

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  • October 29, 2012

    TV, non-linear and disruption

    The linear TV broadcast industry has kept its oligopolistic structure remarkably intact over the last 50 years against a background of much technological innovation and re-regulation, but now faces a new wave of innovation that promises growth of non-linear at the expense of linear True disruption can only occur by solving the device challenge of developing on a mass scale new, compelling and innovative ways to access content, but so far non-linear has achieved a very small share of total viewing while linear viewing levels are as high as ever Although non-linear viewing may become substantial, it is unlikely to result in fundamental change in the distribution value in the industry

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    July 5, 2012

    YouView: better late than never

    YouView, the hybrid DTT/IPTV service backed by the public service broadcasters, is here, but with an initial retail box price of £300 it will be heavily dependent on the subsidies offered by ISP distributors BT and TalkTalk The TV market has evolved since YouView's conception in 2008, with many other internet-enabled options now available; its managed and integrated approach gives it some advantages but doesn't make it a ‘must have' We expect YouView to mainly appeal to Freeview and BT Vision upgraders and project take-up between 1-3 million TV homes by 2015, though if the product improves and pricing falls dramatically it could see faster growth

  • May 24, 2012

    ITV/Channel 4 2012 viewing and NAR outlook

    Further sharp year-on-year declines in viewing share by the leading commercial PSB channels, ITV1 and Channel 4, in Q1 2012 run contrary to the general stabilisation of viewing trends as Digital Switchover nears completion. The Channel 4 decline is more easily explained by exceptional factors, while closer examination of NAR trends suggest that ITV Family NAR has performed less well in recent quarters than results releases suggest. Once past Digital Switchover, digital convergence trends appear less of a threat towards the future stability of ITV and Channel 4 family viewing trends than the competitive threat from Sky as it raises its investment in UK programme origination.

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  • January 31, 2012

    TV NAR forecasts: 2012-2016

    With the economy drifting sideways, we have set our centre case forecasts at 0-1% average annual growth in TV NAR and assigned a low probability to a repeat of the hyper-cyclical downturn of 2008/9. Comparative international data show a pervasive long term weakness in display advertising trends across the developed world, while emerging markets in Asia, Latin America and Central/Eastern Europe take an increasing share of global budgets. With digital switchover near completion, channel viewing shares across the main commercial groups should stabilise, but internet advertising, especially online video, will exert a negative structural downward pressure on TV NAR over the next three years at least.

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  • September 21, 2011

    Google TV in the UK: friends with few benefits

    Nearly a year after rolling out Google TV in the US, Google has confirmed plans to launch its ‘smart TV' operating platform in Europe and the UK by early 2012. To date, Google TV in the US has been a disappointment, with little broadcaster support and, until recently, expensive devices, resulting in low adoption. The content issue is likely to dog Google TV, both here and in other European markets; access to key broadcaster TV and video programming will be a major challenge.

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    June 2, 2011

    Sunshine to showers: TV 2011 advertising update

    We have revised our central case forecasts of total year-on-year NAR (Net Advertising Revenue) growth in 2011 from 5% to 1%, as the advertising outlook has progressively worsened since mid April. 2011 is marked by a further round of consolidation in airtime sales and a number of noteworthy channel and programming changes. Channel 4 Sales, and above all its flagship Channel 4, appears the most challenged of the leading market players, while we expect the ITV group to continue to outperform the NAR market in the rest of 2011 and 2012.

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  • March 1, 2011

    TV NAR in 2011 and medium term outlook

    Q1 2011 TV NAR (Net Advertising Revenue) has delivered strong year-on-year growth of about 8%, yet the monthly variations are large, with a predictably sharp decrease in March based on past year comparatives countered by a large Christmas-style upswing in the Easter and Royal Wedding month of April. After several years of decoupling total display and TV advertising trends from those in the broader economy due to negative structural causes, the underlying positive correlations are expected to reappear as the structural factors subdue. The general economic outlook suggests stable growth in TV NAR during 2011 of about 5%, remaining flat to marginally positive in real terms beyond 2011 as long as conditions of weak economic growth last, but with significant risks of a sudden sharp downturn in the short to medium term.

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  • July 22, 2010

    Sky and VMtv and Five: competition questions

    The transaction size means that the OFT was obliged to examine BSkyB's purchase of the VMtv channels. The transaction will probably be approved because of the small impact on Sky's share of NAR (Net Advertising Revenue), which will rise from around 14% to 16%. The more pressing competition concern, which has attracted little attention, is Sky's growing market power in the determination of carriage fee payments. Nevertheless the lack of companies actively prepared to complain to the OFT probably means that the transaction will go through without a murmur. Separately, the likely purchase of Five by Richard Desmond raises regulatory issues to do with the possible reduction of media ‘plurality'. The Sky/VMtv transaction and Channel 4's taking over UKTV advertising sales also places Five Sales in a significantly weaker position, but any attempts to join with one of the big three sales groups (ITV, Channel 4 or Sky) may well be rejected by the competition regulators.
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  • May 31, 2010

    Project Canvas and the future of television

    Subject to BBC Trust approval, Canvas looks almost certain to launch in spring 2011 after the OFT decided that it did not have the jurisdiction to review Canvas under the merger provisions of the Enterprise Act 2002. The OFT decision does not rule out complaints on other grounds, but the chances of persuading the regulators look very small. The launch of Canvas promises to strengthen significantly the free-to-air digital terrestrial platform, otherwise very limited compared with satellite and cable platforms in terms of bandwidth, but mass adoption poses numerous challenges and it is open to question whether Canvas will ever extend to more than half the DTT base. In the long term, it is hard not to see Canvas as an interim step in the growing convergence between the TV screen and the internet, raising the question of how successfully its PSB TV-centric approach can adapt to the coming challenges of the full blown digital age.
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    January 23, 2009

    Many rivers to cross – fixing the broken PSB model

    The final Ofcom statement on the future of PSB advocates fixing the commercial PSB crisis by designating Channel 4 as the core alternative provider of public service programming to the BBC, and freeing up ITV and Five commercially by means of considerably lightened PSB obligations. The fundamental issue of the Channel 4 (or any other) solution is funding the new commercial PSB model. Eyes are now being set on a Channel 4 partnership with BBC Worldwide, centred on its UK assets as the marriage made in heaven. Another major recommendation of the Ofcom PSB proposal is the abolition of the national Channel 3 breakfast time licence, currently held by GMTV, which is running a viable business with its own sales force. This recommendation appears at odds with Ofcom's commitment to plurality in news provision and its statutory duties to encourage competition in the communications industries.

  • November 27, 2008

    UK TV Advertising and PSB survival

    The consultation period for the second phase of Ofcom's Second Public Service Broadcasting Review closes on 4th December 2008. The central issue before Ofcom is that the current PSB model is broken, lacking the flexibility to “adapt to audiences' evolving needs”. The primary concern lies with the commercial sector, which is under increasing strain to deliver its PSB commitments due to structural changes in the television medium that have been compounded by the present economic crisis. This presentation sets out our views about the role of structural changes in restraining TV net advertising revenues (NAR) growth in recent years along with our latest TV forecasts to 2013. Whilst some of the current downward pressures on TV NAR may be expected to ease, a new structural change that threatens the commercial PSB sector is the growing chasm between BBC investment in its PSB services and the advertising revenues of ITV, Channel 4 and Five.

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