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  • 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
  • July 31, 2019

    Neobanks: rapid growth or a slow burn?

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    Revolut’s recent Australian launch marks the first neobank taking on the local market, with several others waiting in the wings. Despite a willingness to consider using neobanks, particularly among younger consumers, we expect market share growth to be relatively slow as a result of low churn, a lack of trust and strong offerings from the incumbents.
  • July 30, 2019

    ACCC Digital Platforms Inquiry Final Report – much needed digit [...]

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    The ACCC in its final report on the Digital Platforms has come up with a range of practical measures that could potentially help curb any anti-competitive behaviours from the tech giants. While the report focuses primarily on Google and Facebook, the ACCC has aimed to ensure that the recommendations are future-proof and adaptable to other digital platforms as the market evolves.
  • July 25, 2019

    Australian MVNO market overview – no longer just about price

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    Australian MVNOs have reached a market share of 13% nationwide, as competitive MNO offerings now appeal to value conscious customers. New network technologies and the commoditised mobile industry are increasing the competitive intensity. Differentiation and cross selling will become increasingly important for MVNOs to build and retain market share
  • July 24, 2019

    TalkTalk UK Q1 2019/20 results: Slower but steadier

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    TalkTalk suffered subscriber losses and falling consumer revenue growth in Q1, with churn still high despite the high speed base growing, countered by ARPU growing for the first time since 2017. The subscriber drop was, however, modest and looks quite deliberate, with there being evidence of price firming in both direct and indirect channels supporting both ARPU and margin. This more cautious approach, if it can be sustained, puts the company on a much more healthy footing in our view, allowing it to achieve its financial targets without increasingly unsustainable existing customer price rises
  • July 23, 2019

    How could the BBC ever fund the over-75s?

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    In the BBC’s 2015 funding settlement commencing 2017, the Government assumed the BBC would fully fund the subsidy for over-75s to the tune of £750 million from 2020/21. Although the BBC’s settlement contained measures of “mitigation” worth c.£290 million, the BBC would still have faced a gap of c.£460 million to be funded by programme cuts and efficiencies (the BBC has pledged £250 million). Including c.£300 million from the annual adjustment of the licence fee for inflation from 2017 would help. However, this was always required to offset normal salary and cost increases to prevent a real decline in the BBC’s resources.
  • 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
  • July 15, 2019

    Ad blocking update – Publishers and tech giants work togeth [...]

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    Digital publishers are using a variety of strategies to counter the impact of ad blockers from requesting users to turn off ad blockers or whitelisting websites to blocking access to content. Publishers have also found unlikely allies in Google and Facebook that are making it harder for third party ad blockers to block ads on their platforms.
  • July 11, 2019

    100% EVs by 2050

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    Electronic Vehicles (EVs) in Australia are forecast to reach 100% of new car sales within 15-20 years. EVs are an alternative to the internal combustion engine (or ICE) and use electric motors or traction motors for propulsion. ICE vehicles typically run on petrol or diesel and currently make up nearly 100% of the Australian private vehicle market. EVs are charged typically from the grid and as such source energy from both renewable and fossil fuel sources. Reduction in technology costs and the mass production will result in EVs having lower upfront and running costs which will lead to mass market adoption and ultimately replace the entire commercial market for private vehicles. In this report, we review the various factors driving the uptake of EVs, the way in which EVs will be charged, and the potential impact on residential homes’ production and consumption of electricity. As the market moves towards a distributed renewable market, EVs will increasingly be charged by cheaper renewable energy during off peak times when renewables are abundant in supply. We also review the cost of charging EVs (versus the equivalent cost for an ICE car) under various scenarios where a household charges its EV using grid electricity and using their own solar panels and batteries.
  • July 10, 2019

    Google’s Icarus moment

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    ­­­­Google’s advertising business has begun losing market share in the US, with competition from Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft intensifying in search and display. In response, the company is redoubling efforts to reshape its apps, services, and the entire web for more efficient monetisation, spelling uncertainty for partners and users. The adaptability and complexity of Google’s services reduce business risk from targeted regulatory measures, but increase the pressure for a radical intervention
  • July 8, 2019

    Roku: OTT pioneer under threat

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    With c.22m accounts across 44m devices, Roku has a US footprint that exceeds the largest pay-TV platforms. Limited competitive advantages highlights the scale of this achievement, but also leave the pioneering firm vulnerable to activities from bigger, wealthier rivals Apple, Amazon, and Google as well as pay-TV providers. The odds are stacked against Roku, but continuing the innovation in production and product that built its lead may secure future success
  • July 5, 2019

    Vocus Strategy update: leverage fibre, subsea and mobile to build [...]

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    Vocus held its strategy day on 3rd July 2019, detailing its efforts to turning around its business units. Its core Network Services and Retail units require substantial investment to stimulate revenue and market share growth. Vocus has identified mobile and its subsea cable assets as key drivers for growth. After two unsuccessful merger attempts in the last month, Vocus needs to ensure it can transform the company.
  • July 3, 2019

    Transforming the live sports experience – it’s game on for 5G

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    Major sports codes in Australia are trying to figure out how to engage and attract younger fans, and they are looking to technology not only to gain and retain fans but also to get fans into the stadium. Technological development is rapidly changing almost every facet of the business of live sports and as sport changes both on and off the field, innovation has become a key priority for all industry stakeholders.  
  • July 2, 2019

    A strict early privacy verdict for UK online advertising

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    The Information Commissioner’s Office reported on the UK online advertising sector, finding common industry practices unlawful under a strict interpretation of the GDPR and UK privacy law. The ICO focused on problems around transparency, consent and data sharing in the Real-Time-Bidding ecosystem, which comprises 16% of UK online ad spend, but most of publisher online ad revenue. The ICO is giving the industry six months to shape up, with the next steps still unclear. The Competition and Markets Authority has had under consideration an investigation into the entire online advertising sector, but is hampered by Brexit-related considerations.
  • 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 26, 2019

    Do batteries change everything, and by when?

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    Webinar Review: Venture Insights hosted a webinar with leading solar and battery experts Nick Brass (Co-Founder, DC Power Co) and Ryan Wavish (Principal, Marchment Hill Consulting) to discuss the role of household batteries in Australia. The topic for discussion was “Do batteries change everything, and by when?”. Certainly, the view from the guest speakers and Venture Insights is that batteries are a ‘game changer’ technology on the horizon for residential electricity markets. In a world made up of cheaper renewable electricity (zero marginal cost) there are profound opportunities for all participants in the electricity supply chain, from battery manufacturers, demand side software models, fossil fuel and renewable generators, transmission and distribution network owners and the incumbent and challenger retailers.
  • June 26, 2019

    Facebook Libra – the cryptocurrency arms race has begun…

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    Facebook announced the launch of Libra, a new digital currency that aims to transform how we pay and transfer money. Calibra, Facebook’s Libra ewallet, has the potential to shake the entire payments industry through its scale and value. However, Libra faces multiple challenges, including regulatory hurdles and Facebook’s chequered past with privacy and data security.
  • June 20, 2019

    Network Slicing – business transformation opportunities from me [...]

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    Network slicing is a key feature of 5G networks, allowing MNOs to allocate independent virtual networks to customers with specific capabilities and quality of service guarantees. In addition to improved performance, network slicing will create new business models that will bring new revenue streams for MNOs. There are a range of opportunities across media, gaming, emergency services, IoT, transport and MVNO market segments.  
  • 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
  • June 14, 2019

    UK Channel 4’s balancing act: 2018 annual report

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    Mindful of the uncertain future effects of ongoing events, most notably the stagnating TV ad market and the costs of establishing an HQ in Leeds, Channel 4 returned a £5 million pre-tax surplus in 2018, which after investment in Box left its cash reserves at £180 million. Increased digital revenue more than made up for the anticipated drop in spot advertising and sponsorship (with group viewing share and SOCI down) while cautiousness necessitated lower content spend (down 5% from the peak in 2016); a concern given rising content costs. Nevertheless, Channel 4 is doing a good job delivering its remit in a tough environment, continuing to broadcast programming no-one else would and leveraging long-standing relationships to nurture television and film of a quality and ingenuity that belies the modest size of the organisation
  • June 13, 2019

    O2 UK: holding its own in toughening conditions

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    After a period of significant outperformance, O2’s Q1 results reverted to sector average revenue growth with ARPU down by 3% and all of the growth coming from ‘other’ revenues. Regulation limiting out-of-bundle spending has been a significant drag which will continue to worsen. A more competitive market and a punishing regulatory outlook will make it very challenging to sustain 2018 growth trends as this year progresses
  • June 12, 2019

    Monetising user-generated video

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    ­­­­Video sharing platforms, like YouTube, Facebook Watch and Twitch, are vying to attract creators with monetisation options such as branded content and user payments. Advertising income, already limited for many small and medium-sized creators, has been undermined by YouTube’s response to brand safety concerns. The new tools come with their own obstacles, but are necessary to keep platforms attractive to video creators.
  • June 11, 2019

    Mobile Blackspot Programs: Telstra likely to be the future winner [...]

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    The Commonwealth Government and States have funded four rounds of blackspots resulting in 1,047 new base stations. In March 2019, the Government announced two more blackspots rounds with total federal government funding of $160 million. Similar to the previous rounds, we expect the majority of total state and federal funding to go to Telstra. However, there are still bidding concerns for the rounds.  
  • June 6, 2019

    Foxtel and OTT – a tough balancing act…

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    Foxtel has made several attempts at building a successful OTT service, but the results have been mixed so far. With Kayo and the potential launch of a ‘Netflix’ competitor, Foxtel is clearly aiming to increase household penetration beyond the 30% mark. However, in a crowded SVOD market and the potential for further disruption from new entrants and other players, Foxtel faces a tough battle.