Sky Italia

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  • February 4, 2019

    Sky UK Q4 2018 results: accelerating growth

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    Sky’s revenue growth under Comcast appears to have accelerated since it last reported as an independent company, largely driven by sports rights expansion in Italy, which also drove bumper subscriber growth in Q3 2018. Sky UK likely enjoyed a steadier performance, helped by accelerating high speed adoption, a price rise in April, increased international sales, and improving premium channel adoption on third-party platforms. Comcast expects continued acceleration into 2019, with profitability taking a hit from increased sports rights in Italy in H1, but this is more than compensated for by reduced English Premier League rights costs in H2.
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  • June 26, 2018

    Sky finally renews Serie A rights until 2021

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    Italy’s top football league awarded Sky the broadcasting rights to seven games per week from August 2018 until May 2021 for €780 million per year, up €208 million. UK-based Perform will carry three games for €193 million. Mediaset exits the market, freeing Sky from price competition. Besides Serie A, Sky added Mediaset’s Hollywood series and films to its content line up in May and will include the Champions League from August. We expect costs to rise by up to €500 million per year, which could be recouped by cuts in content and by recruiting Mediaset subscribers, notably on Sky’s new DTT feed. The best model for Perform would be to wholesale its new DAZN service to Sky, but even if a deal is found we doubt it could break even within the rights cycle.
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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 6, 2018

    Football embraces Chinese ‘hot’ money – at a risk

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    In a display of chutzpah, Mediapro acquired the Ligue 1 domestic broadcasting rights from 2020-24 in what is the most disruptive shock to the French broadcasting industry in a generation; one that is likely to accelerate Canal+’s decline, force a review of the outdated regulatory framework, and possibly spur an M&A spree. The Mediapro move only makes sense as a highly speculative bid to resell the rights, or a dedicated channel, to French platforms in 2020. The odds are high that the broker ultimately fails to fulfil the contract, as just happened in Italy, where Sky is now expected to get the Serie A licence. Precedents of new entrants acquiring domestic top-flight rights bode poorly for Mediapro, and for the league. The Ligue 1 may live to regret the introduction of a ‘re-sell right’ into its licensing terms.  
  • 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 24, 2018

    European video-on-demand: Playing catch-up to the UK

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    The UK continues to lead the EU5 in take-up and consumption of video-on-demand services, with close cultural alignment and a historic williness to pay for TV content making it a receptive home for US SVODs. Netflix dominates in most markets, benefiting from high-profile US imports and big-budget local productions. Local SVODs are struggling, with those operated by FTA broadcasters facing considerable challenges. Collaboration between local broadcasters and pay-TV platforms is essential if they are to hold at bay the threat of Netflix and co., with an increasingly favourable regulatory environment opening the door for unprecedented collaboration.      
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  • April 18, 2018

    Sky’s Italian strategic breakthrough

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    After losing money for 13 years fighting Sky, Mediaset has given up. The two have agreed to wholesale channels to each other, and Sky gained the option to take over the infrastructure of terrestrial pay platform Mediaset Premium, in a deal designed to pass antitrust muster. The main strategic upside for Sky resides in eventual access to content from Italian FTA channels, allowing it to become the country’s ‘universal’ platform. Meanwhile, Mediaset may find it easier to resolve its dispute with France’s Vivendi now that the broadcaster has got rid of its main cash drain. Sky remains the only major potential buyer of the 2018-21 Serie A rights, to be sold on 21 April. However, due to the league’s unrealistic expectations and the faulty platform-based auction design, the auction may be aborted for a third time, raising the risk that heavily indebted clubs resort to short-term fixes.
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  • February 14, 2018

    Sky H1 2017/18 results: Solid platform, questions on content

    Sky H1 results were very solid, maintaining 5% revenue growth and 10% EBITDA growth, with Sky continuing to support a widening product portfolio and more expensive core products with strong cost control and execution. Subscriber volume growth was a little weak at the margin, but this will be helped by all-IP products expanding the economically addressable base in new, and existing, markets. There remain questions on content, with the outlook for premium football rights uncertain in the UK and Italy, and investment in Originals questionable given a mixed track record, but certainly with upside
  • TV platform forecasts to 2026: DTT and pay-lite set to grow
    TV platform forecasts to 2026: DTT and pay-lite set to grow
    February 1, 2018

    Serie A’s 2018-21 auction morphs into telenovela

    The Italian league, unhappy with broadcasters’ bids of €830m, are now holding talks with Spain’s Mediapro, who has offered €950m and would produce a channel to wholesale to all platforms. Mediapro’s bid faces challenging economics given the low potential for an OTT strategy and Sky’s exclusive possession of a sufficiently monetisable subscriber base. Ultimately, we expect Sky to continue its full coverage and to increase its outlay only if it gains more exclusive fixtures
  • TV platform forecasts to 2026: DTT and pay-lite set to grow
    TV platform forecasts to 2026: DTT and pay-lite set to grow
    January 11, 2018

    Italy’s Serie A desperately fighting football rights deflation

    Results of the league’s new call for tender for its 2018-21 broadcasting rights will be unveiled on 22 January. The platform-based packaging was reviewed after last year’s aborted auction, apparently to accommodate loss-making Mediaset Premium, the participation of which remains nevertheless uncertain. Sky could keep its current satellite and internet coverage without increasing its outlay. We expect no major Telecom Italia (TI) or GAFA bid. Serie A seeks an unrealistic €1.05 billion per year (up 24%). If the auction results fall short, it hopes to sell rights to financial investors or, in a last resort, to launch its own channel – both ideas smacking of recklessness
  • 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 26, 2017

    European subscription and pay-TV monitor

    Across Europe, markets are becoming more competitive. Incumbent pay-TV paltforms (e.g. Sky or Canal+) face increasing threats from both internet-based services (e.g. Netflix and Amazon), and telecoms operators.Telecoms providers are proving the most potent challengers as they enter the premium football rights market to create attractive triple and quad play bundles – examples include BT, SFR and Telefónica. The latter is now the main pay-TV operator in Spain whereas France’s Canal+ has entered into a strategic alliance with Orange. Across the top five markets (UK, France, Germany, Spain, and Italy), Sky remains the leading operator with an estimated 21.5m video subscribers, twice as many as Netflix
  • 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.

  • June 13, 2017

    Sky is favourite in twin (and odd) Italian football auctions

    Domestic championship and Champions League rights for 2018-21 are auctioned almost simultaneously. The main uncertainties are the extent to which Sky will increase its exclusive coverage of Serie A, and whether it will try to win the Champions League auction to take advantage of rival Mediaset Premium’s announced retreat. We doubt that telecom or digital operators will be tempted by the €200m minimum price for the two internet-only packages with patchy regional coverage – a bad idea mandated by the regulator. However irrational behaviour at auctions should never be ruled out.

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  • May 3, 2017

    Sky still on track: Q3 2017 results

    Sky delivered 5% year-on-year revenue growth over the first nine months at constant exchange rates, although operating profits fell due to several factors, most notably the massive step-up in UK Premier League TV payments under the new contract. On closer inspection, relatively weak UK & Ireland Q3 revenue growth compared with previous quarters largely reflects one-off special factors . Otherwise, positive quarters for Sky Germany & Austria and Sky Italy and improving cost efficiencies suggest that the Sky Group remains broadly on track to deliver its Investor Day 2016 guidance objectives.

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  • August 8, 2016

    Sky firing on all cylinders: FY 2016 results

    FY 2016 has been an excellent year, with all three Sky markets showing improved performance as Sky delivered 7% revenue growth (5% after adjusting for 2016 being a 53-week year) and 12% increase in operating profit. The success reflects Sky’s commitment to product and service innovation and diversification in an increasingly fragmented marketplace combined with tight control of back office costs and focus on synergies. As a measure of its success, Sky has set new cost synergy targets of £400 million annual run-rate by FY 2020 and is aiming for continuing middle to high single digit growth in revenues, which should let it comfortably absorb the rising costs of Premier League and Bundesliga live televised rights under the next contracts.

  • June 1, 2016

    New VOD rules in the EU Digital Single Market

    The Commission proposes to require VOD services to implement a 20% share of EU works in catalogues, which Netflix already largely meets. More impactful is the EU’s proposal for OTT SVOD services to provide access to the home service when subscribers travel in the EU, benefitting the UK’s 14 million subscribers. TV broadcasters, which observe a 50% EU works threshold in their linear programming served on TV platforms and online players, will be able to opt-in to portability.
  • April 1, 2016

    Sky’s originals: seeking iconic differentiation

    Sky is steadily expanding its output of scripted content – now almost at the same volume as HBO’s. It is an attempt to strengthen the Sky brand in a more competitive market, the ultimate prize being exclusive association with ‘iconic’ content. So far so good: in the UK most originals deliver higher audiences than average and than US imports. Emergence of an iconic hit may be just a matter of time. Sky’s Italian productions are closer to the domestic hit status, but harder to sell to British viewers. The challenge for Sky is to stay in the global series budget race through US co-production and sales without compromising editorial sharpness. Continental European platforms increase Sky’s financial clout, but will require distinct content.
  • October 27, 2015

    Sky Q1 2016 results: positive start to the year

    Sky has got off to a good start in 2016, as Q1 group revenues grew by 6% and operating profits by 10% year-on-year, while churn stayed low across all three operations, and product net additions of close to one million pointed to continuing strong underlying growth. The Q1 results have softened concerns about the impact of loss of Champions League live televised rights in the UK and Italy, which have so far shown very little effect in spite of intense competitive pressures from BT and Mediaset. Although Sky UK & Ireland has accounted for the entire year-on-year increase in Q1 operating profits, strong subscriber growth in Germany & Austria over the last two years, and signs that economic conditions in Italy are on the mend, provide a positive outlook for the year ahead.

  • October 9, 2015

    Sky’s cost discipline in Italy close to being vindicated

    In Italy, pay coverage of the Champions League shifted from Sky to Mediaset Premium this season. Alongside a new Serie A contract, this adds an extra €300 million to Mediaset Premium’s cost base. The first results indicate that Mediaset is unlikely to meet its subscriber growth target. On current trends we expect cumulative EBIT losses of over €400 million by 2018. Mounting losses may force Mediaset to close or sell Premium, but fear of Sky may slow decision-making. Sky was probably right not to overbid for the Champions League and the savings should more than offset minor subscriber losses.

  • August 6, 2015

    Sky plc growing synergies – Q4 2015 results

    The first set of annual results to include all three Sky pay-TV operations in Europe shows Sky plc to be off to a very good start: subscriber growth up by 5%, churn everywhere below 10%, adjusted group revenues up 5% and operating profit up 18%. Excellent though the start has been, each of the pay-TV operations faces its own specific challenges – be they to do with ARPU growth in Germany & Austria, subscriber growth in Italy, or football in some shape or form across all three markets and nowhere more so than in UK & Ireland. Most importantly for the Sky European merger, the latest results indicate that Sky is well on course with its target annual run-rate of £200 million in synergies by 2017; but with the UK model to act as a template, it is the fast-growing connected space that catches the eye.

  • July 1, 2015

    A new Fox bid for Sky: when, not if

    News Corp’s original bid for full ownership of BSkyB was withdrawn because of the phone hacking scandal. It was never blocked by regulators. Had it not been for the scandal, the bid would almost certainly have been approved. With the phone hacking scandal fallout largely over and the election of a friendly government, the climate is now much more favourable to a renewed bid. With undertakings, we believe it would be approved by regulators. The increasingly global scale of TV and film distribution means the commercial case for the bid is, if anything, stronger now than in 2010. The questions are simply whether the right price can be agreed, and how high up it is on James Murdoch’s list of priorities.

  • April 24, 2015

    Sky plc off to a good start – Q3 2015 results

    Sky plc has produced a strong first quarter across its three markets in terms of subscriber growth, record low churn and continuing firm control over costs, which has contributed to a 5% increase in revenues and 20% increase in operating profit over the first nine months of fiscal 2015. As expected, practically all the retail customer growth in Q3 occurred in the UK & Ireland and in Germany & Austria. Nevertheless, the results were also positive in Italy, as it registered the highest net customer increase in 3 years and record low churn. It is still too early to judge the success of the Sky plc strategy in terms of synergies, innovation and content origination. Whilst the potential appears great, the imminence of the next Bundesliga auction is a reminder that the issue of sports rights inflation is unlikely to disappear even after the latest PL auction.

  • 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.

  • February 9, 2015

    European Sky plc on the go: Q2 2015 results

    Sky plc, the coming together of BSkyB, Sky Deutschland and Sky Italia, has enjoyed an excellent start, as adjusted H1 2015 figures delivered a 5% increase in revenues versus a 3% increase in costs, resulting in EBITDA growth of 7% and with free cash flow up by 25%. The strong financial results were accompanied by strong subscriber growth figures, especially in the operations covering Austria, Germany, Ireland and the UK, while all markets showed large reductions in churn, reinforcing confidence in the strategic approach of Sky plc. It is too early to assess Sky’s delivery of its target group synergies. Individually, the former BSkyB and Sky Deutschland markets may be showing much stronger subscriber and product growth, but they also look to be more exposed to risk over football rights, while Sky Italia has more going for it than may appear at first sight.

  • January 28, 2015

    Sky and Mediaset Premium: to live and let die

    Speculation has arisen about a possible acquisition by Sky of Mediaset Premium, the DTT competitor to Sky Italia. The unprofitable platform faces a 50% cost increase this summer due to the start of new football broadcast contracts. Getting rid of competition would allow Sky to raise prices, but also burden it with the new contracts. At best, if it kept the Premium subscribers on DTT to limit churn, Sky would have a small revenue upside. But the regulatory risk looks substantial, including mandated third-party access to the platform and wholesale of content. On balance, we believe that it would be better for Sky to let the situation play out.