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    October 16, 2019

    Webscale Playbook: Amazon

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    Amazon has evolved leaps and bounds since its creation. From an online bookstore more than two decades ago, it has become a global internet giant that relies heavily on scale and network infrastructure for its diverse businesses. At present, the company’s businesses beyond e-commerce include physical stores, cloud computing, audio/video streaming, advertising, and devices – all of which have millions of customers/users serviced by a strong network infrastructure. The sheer growth across its businesses in the recent years has primed Amazon as one of the leading operators in the network space. Naturally, to cope up with its ever increasing network-related demand, the company is not just spending massively to shore up its infrastructure through vendor partnerships but could be mulling to build some on its own, especially on the hardware side. Below are a few key highlights from the report: As a percentage of revenues, Amazon spends more on R&D than capex, which is typical of WNOs. The gap between the two spending, however, is somewhat shrinking which goes to show Amazon’s greater efforts in building datacenters and warehouses in the recent years. Amazon also emerged as the top R&D spender among WNOs over the past two years, due to Prime Video. Amazon currently manufactures some of the network components such as routers, chips, network interface cards, and network gears to meet the growing needs of its cloud business (AWS). The internet giant, known for disruption, could foray into the enterprise networking market and sell its own custom-made hardware by 2020, taking the incumbent network vendors head-on. However, Amazon is also creating a host of new opportunities for network vendors, as it looks to disrupt different industries such as automotive (driverless cars) and healthcare (online pharmacy and heart-rate detection device), both requiring a strong network infrastructure to enable data transfers and communication between sensors and components.
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  • September 30, 2019

    Time to liberalise UK TV advertising minutage

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    The UK TV advertising market, in decline since mid-2016, could benefit from a liberalisation of advertising minutage if Ofcom reviews COSTA and decides to make changes. Broadcasters could gain from the flexibility to devote up to 20% of peaktime minutes to advertising under the EU’s revised Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD). Ofcom could also level the playing field between PSB and non-PSB channels, although more minutes of advertising on TV is unlikely to inverse the medium’s decline.
  • September 24, 2019

    Amazon’s pivot to Marketplace

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    Amazon, the gatekeeper to 100 million Prime members, is increasingly reliant for growth on Marketplace, where third-party sellers compete with first-party products. Amazon’s multi-channel platform strategy delivers choice and low prices to customers, but third-party sellers have increasingly complained that their playing field is not level. After Amazon’s seller agreements were modified in August to implement a competition ruling in Germany, the European Commission is now investigating the data layer.
  • September 18, 2019

    The pre-order market has taken off, is consolidation next?

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    Australia’s pre-order market, serviced by players like UberEats, Deliveroo and MenuLog, has grown quickly and is highly competitive. We anticipate the market will experience strong, ongoing growth, market concentration via consolidation as well as horizontal integration. Over the next three years we anticipate that the key players will seek to expand both organically and via acquisition, which will increase the scale and scope of the remaining players. This is likely to be a global phenomenon, though it’s recognised that Australia is an attractive market given its early adoption status.
  • September 17, 2019

    Cut-price iPhones: Apple’s innovative approach

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    Apple’s iPhone launch event was relatively light on iPhone, which shared the stage with games, TV, Watch, iPad and retail announcements. This reflects Apple’s developing priorities: as iPhone sales soften, it needs to find new ways to extract value from the wealthy user base it has spent a decade nurturing. Apple has embraced this new strategy, offering a range of cheaper points of entry into its ecosystem, making the lost profits back on accessories or content subscriptions
  • Spotify’s freemium model gains traction
    Spotify’s freemium model gains traction
    September 16, 2019

    Spotify’s podcast play

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    Spotify is investing heavily in podcasting through acquisitions, original content and product innovation. It is under pressure to reduce dependence on record labels, whose power makes generating large profit margins difficult. Podcasts promise a non-music content genre where Spotify can capture more value. Secondary benefits abound: Spotify can take an active and lucrative role in modernising online audio advertising, it can solve the podcast discovery problem, and engagement across more forms of audio will improve retention
  • September 11, 2019

    In Pod we trust? The rise and rise of podcasts, and where to next

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    Podcasts have come a long way from being the pet project of some hobbyist with a handful of listeners directly proportional to the number of family members they have. But while podcasts are big news, how many people do they really reach? And how can they be monetised?
  • September 6, 2019

    TPG FY19 update – there’s a lot riding on the merger…

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    On 5th September, TPG released its FY19 results. Reported profits plunged 56% to A$174mn in FY19 from A$396mn in FY18, with majority of the drop driven a write down of its spectrum assets. FY20 guidance indicates that TPG is preparing for further earnings pain with EBITDA expected to be in the A$735mn to A$750mn range, about 10% lower than FY19 EBITDA.
  • September 4, 2019

    Under pressure, how UK TV is changing on the screen

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    Analysis of peak time TV programming on the main five PSB channels from 2002 to today shows a decline in the number of UK dramas broadcast—predominantly due to a contraction by ITV—though this has steadied since 2010. The resolve of the PSBs to maintain the number of dramas broadcast, despite rising costs, will mean an inevitable increase in the number of repeats and cheaper programming. A number of other observations are eye-catching: a greater turnover of drama series, entertainment formats failing at a higher rate and celebrity being treated as a panacea
  • September 3, 2019

    oOh!media 1HCY19 update: temporary blip with long term outlook re [...]

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    On 26th August 2019, oOh!media reported its first half CY19 earnings update. OML’s performance in the first half was impacted by reduced ad spends during the NSW state and Federal elections, along with subdued ad spending from the Automotive and Banking segments.  
  • August 28, 2019

    Vocus: building their identity as an infrastructure business

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    On 22nd August, Vocus announced its FY19 earnings. While Vocus delivered on its FY19 guidance, the outlook for the next 2-3 years remains subdued as Vocus faces an uphill battle to turnaround its business. Competitive intensity will continue to remain high across the consumer and enterprise segments. Therefore, how Vocus develops its infrastructure business will remain crucial.  
  • August 27, 2019

    FTA earnings update – could digital save the TV star?

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    Seven West Media and Nine Entertainment reported their 1HFY19 earnings last week. Both broadcasters have been investing in ramping up their BVOD platforms along with offering advertisers addressable TV and programmatic advertising solutions while the outlook for their core FTA business remains challenging.
  • August 22, 2019

    VHA and TPG need a Plan B

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    The ACCC has opposed the $15bn merger between TPG and VHA. In the ACCC’s view the proposed merger will reduce competition in mobile services as TPG would be precluded from becoming the fourth mobile operator. TPG has announced that it has ceased the rollout of its mobile network and will not become the fourth mobile operator. VHA now wants the Federal Court to find that the proposed merger is not anti-competitive, so the merger can proceed.
  • August 21, 2019

    Elephant in the room? No energy policy

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    On 13 August 2019, Infrastructure Australia tabled a comprehensive Audit on Australia’s infrastructure across transport, water, energy, telecommunications and social infrastructure. The objective of the Audit is to take a user perspective of Australia’s infrastructure and create discussion around key challenges and opportunities. We believe the Audit is an excellent forum for lively debate around key issues that will have material impacts on Australians.  We welcome the Audit and congratulate Infrastructure Australia on bringing this Audit forward and into the public domain for healthy and constructive debate. Venture Insights is a market-leading commentator on how technology disrupts the world we live in. We believe that technology can be a force for good and that if harnessed well can provide significant benefits to people. We call this the “technology dividend” and have focused on a number of key sector groups including digital media, telecommunications, finance, energy and health. In this report, we review the energy component of the Audit and provide some of our own views on what is being presented. The Audit was broken into 6 areas (which originated from the Finkel review): (a) Affordability and competitive prices; (b) Secure and reliable and sustainable energy); (c) Planning for our future energy networks; (d) New opportunities for community choice; (e) Delivering energy in remote communities; and (f) Harnessing Australia’s energy advantage. We respond in turn to each of these areas.
  • August 21, 2019

    What Amazon and Uber can learn from Chinese food delivery apps

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    On 15th August 2019, Telstra announced its FY19 earnings. Falling ARPUs and NBN related impacts outweighed subscriber gains resulting in earnings declines. The Australian telco market remains competitive with nearly all sub-segments experiencing varying degrees of pricing pressure. Telstra as the market leader is most at risk as competitors increase share across different segments.
  • August 20, 2019

    Telstra FY19 earnings update: adjusting to a new normal…

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    On 15th August 2019, Telstra announced its FY19 earnings. Falling ARPUs and NBN related impacts outweighed subscriber gains resulting in earnings declines. The Australian telco market remains competitive with nearly all sub-segments experiencing varying degrees of pricing pressure. Telstra as the market leader is most at risk as competitors increase share across different segments.
  • August 19, 2019

    Virgin Media UK: subscribers fall but ARPU grows

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    Virgin Media’s results were quite mixed, with the subscriber base shrinking in a very slow market, but ARPU and revenue returning to growth despite pricing pressure and regulatory drags. The outlook remains challenging, but market pricing does seem to be easing with no repeat of the damaging Openreach price cuts on the horizon. ‘Full fibre’ roll-outs will bring further challenges, but opportunities as well, with the accompanying focus on higher speeds likely to be a significant operational upside in the short to medium term.
  • August 16, 2019

    Sky UK Q2 2019 results: strong subscriber growth and long-term in [...]

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    Sky’s Q2 results were encouraging overall, with significant subscriber growth swinging direct-to-consumer revenue growth back to positive. ARPU declined once more, since new streaming customers are taking lower-priced products, but total revenue growth accelerated to 2.4%. EBITDA rose 20%, primarily due to the dropping out of some large one-off costs. Next quarter, Sky will begin making savings on the new Premier League rights contract, and increased football rights costs in Italy and Germany will have annualised out. Having launched Sky Studios in June, Sky is focused on producing original European content, with ambitions to double spend over the next five years, in a calibrated response to the Netflix-led race for content.
  • August 15, 2019

    Finally, a long-term perspective – Infrastructure Australia [...]

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    Infrastructure Australia’s (IA) first audit in 2015 was the first national picture of Australia’s infrastructure challenges. IA’s second audit released in August 2019 seeks to identify challenges and opportunities across Australia’s transport, social infrastructure, energy, water and Telecommunications sectors. IA also considered the key future trends facing Australians as well as the direct views of infrastructure users across Australia.
  • August 14, 2019

    BT: Temporary problems, long-term promise

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    BT’s divisions had contrasting fortunes in Q1 2019/20, with Consumer revenue growth sharply turning negative but Openreach external revenue growth accelerating to 10%, leaving the Group level unchanged at -1% and EBITDA on course to meet guidance. Consumer was hit by several regulatory and pricing factors mainly affecting mobile, and the short-term outlook remains tough, with a number of legacy pricing issues across fixed and mobile still to be resolved. Openreach is reaping the benefit of previous price declines annualizing out, allowing it to take full advantage of higher speed demand, and due to its full fibre roll-out this dynamic could persevere for years.
  • August 12, 2019

    Netflix’s US subscriber loss

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    Netflix lost 126,000 US subscribers (net) in Q2, the first time this has happened since 2011 when there was a price rise and the Qwikster debacle. This time a price rise—of one or two dollars, depending on tier—was one culprit, but the soft release schedule of big, returning original series, which usually give a bump to subscriber additions, played a part. Q3 has those series returns in spades, with Stranger Things, Orange is the New Black, Money Heist and Mindhunter likely driving subscriber numbers back up, but the suggestion that there is less flexibility to raise prices than previously assumed is a worry for Netflix and incoming competitors.
  • August 9, 2019

    Optus 1QFY20 earnings update: 5G and Optus Sport will drive growt [...]

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    On 8th August 2019 Optus announced its 1QFY20 earnings. Revenues were up driven by mobile handset sales and NBN migration payments, in spite of a drop in mobile service revenues and continued weakness in the enterprise segment. 5G and Optus Sport remain the key growth areas going forward.
  • August 5, 2019

    Vodafone UK: some signs of life but an uncertain road to recovery

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    Vodafone’s newfound focus on performance improvement is showing signs of delivering – more on the cost than revenue side. Tower sharing has the potential to ultimately enhance European cashflow by 10%. The revenue picture is more mixed with churn improving but a very varied operational picture across its major European markets. Although Vodafone highlights the potential for German cable to drive growth post Liberty Global deal completion, their current 0.4% growth in Germany does not give cause for optimism
  • August 2, 2019

    O2 UK: Lower costs mitigate the challenging environment

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    O2’s service revenue growth slipped decisively into negative territory at -1.8% this quarter as the punishing regulatory regime took its toll. Underlying EBITDA growth of 4% was particularly impressive in the circumstances; likely aided by more direct distribution as well as tight cost control. The coming week will unveil how this compares to peers; we anticipate results which reflect a tough environment with little let-up on the horizon