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  • 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.
  • June 3, 2019

    TalkTalk UK: a welcome slowdown?

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    TalkTalk hit the bottom end of its (revised) 2018/19 EBITDA guidance, an achievement given fierce price competition and the margin-dilutive effect of high speed upgrades. This is however helped by one-off Openreach price cuts, and price rises for ancillary products (voice calls and pay-TV) and out-of-contract customers that look hard to sustain. Subscriber growth slowed dramatically in Q4, and continuing this more measured approach could help the company counter multiple market pressures, and perhaps even lead to a détente in the current price wars
  • May 29, 2019

    Facebook’s video strategy – loads of content but nothing to W [...]

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    By 2020, online video will account for 82% of all internet traffic in Australia. It is therefore not surprising that global tech giants are investing in and acquiring different genres of video content as they make a play to dominate online video consumption. Facebook’s half-hearted attempt at video streaming has had its fair share of issues so far and is playing catch up in a market already dominated by other SVOD players.
  • May 29, 2019

    Vodafone – pressure is still on

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    Vodafone’s operating performance worsened again this quarter with revenues down 3.3% and an extension of its underperformance relative to peers. Vodafone was right to cut its dividend given the extremity of the cash constraint. With financials in Euro terms in negative territory and worsening, an elevated and progressive dividend was not sustainable. In spite of difficult market conditions, the lower end of guidance looks achievable as comparables will become easier and football rights costs decline. The transformation programme will need to pay off fast to deliver any meaningful growth
  • May 28, 2019

    Virgin Media UK: contemplating its strategic future as pressure m [...]

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    Q1 results evidenced the downturn that Virgin Media had flagged in February. Consumer cable weakened sharply to just 1% growth vs 3%+ historically, partly thanks to ‘increased promotions in response to market dynamics’. Monetising Virgin’s speed advantage is becoming more challenging. Competition is hotting up for high-speed broadband in particular, fuelled by Openreach targets for smaller players and BT’s full fibre and G.fast rollouts. The company faces two vital strategic decisions – whether to wholesale BT’s fibre products outside its footprint, and whether to allow wholesale access to its own network. The former is likely to have the most legs and offers an alternative to further Lightning extension
  • May 27, 2019

    BT UK: Promising future, but investment required

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    BT is accelerating its ‘full fibre’ rollout, likely due to a combination of a successful build to date, very promising regulatory developments, and (let’s not deny it) worrying competitor build plans. Full year results were a little weak versus consensus, with guidance a little soft as well, leading to questions of how this can be funded, particularly the roll-out acceleration from 2021/22 to cover half the country by the mid-2020. Whatever the funding mechanism, we regard the investment as sound, with BT’s planned operational transformation also promising but potentially requiring further upfront investment
  • May 20, 2019

    Disney gets the final piece of Hulu

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    Disney announced that it would acquire Comcast’s 33% share of Hulu in a put/call agreement that can be enacted by either party from January 2024, while taking full operational control of the vehicle immediately. Under the agreement Disney will pay Comcast a minimum of $9 billion for its current stake, provided Comcast fulfils agreed capital calls, which going forward would be just over $500 million/year. Disney secured the continued licensing of NBCUniversal content for Hulu, contributing about 30% of Hulu’s library, but Comcast can loosen obligations to Hulu for the launch of its own SVOD service in 2020.
  • May 15, 2019

    An alternative model to the proposed TPG-Vodafone merger

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    The ACCC has blocked the $15bn merger between TPG and Vodafone, citing its belief that a merged entity would reduce competition given TPG’s ability to become a fourth mobile operator. TPG and Vodafone intend to appeal the decision and have extended their merger agreement to 31 August 2020. Venture Insights believes there is an alternative model which would enable infrastructure efficiencies and benefit competition.
  • May 14, 2019

    Facebook doubles down on advertising

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    After the most challenging period in its history since 2012, Facebook has been able to stabilise its fundamental metrics and announce a major product overhaul. Despite talk of a business model pivot, Facebook’s focus remains on advertising, whose growth will remain concentrated in developed markets. News publishers wishing to stay relevant on the upgraded product set need to target exclusive layers of social interaction, with groups particularly important.
  • April 5, 2019

    Apple’s showtime: everybody gets a service, partners get pennie [...]

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    ­­­­Apple is strengthening its household model by doubling down on family-friendly content subscriptions and payments. The model is reliant on hard bargains with mainly US partners, which risks sacrificing potential scale for a short-term boost in margin dollars. The new services offer glimpses of novel concepts, but stop short of taking risks to truly differentiate—a problem in TV, where Apple’s distribution advantage is slimmer than Oprah would have it.
  • April 4, 2019

    BBC Studios and Discovery in the UK: a new SVOD and the UKTV spli [...]

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    The split of UKTV has been announced with the lifestyle channels going to Discovery, while the balance, along with the UKTV brand and VOD service, retained by the BBC, costing BBC Studios £173 million. In the same release, a new, global Discovery SVOD “powered” by BBC natural history and factual programming was announced, backed by a ten-year content partnership. The deal is a positive step for the BBC, which safeguards against flaky brand attribution internationally and the potential loss of revenues from Netflix, which is becoming more choosy when acquiring content.
  • April 3, 2019

    eSports and Broadcasters – to TV or not to TV…

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    eSports viewership and revenues have grown significantly in the past few years and look set to continue growing rapidly. The rapid growth and the much-coveted millennial viewer base has caught the eye of traditional broadcasters who are looking at ways to explore this new content genre. But has the eSports ‘gravy train’ already left the station?
  • April 1, 2019

    Expectations versus reality in data-driven healthcare – how [...]

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    On 19 March 2019, Venture Insights conducted a health sector breakfast roundtable (in our Melbourne and Sydney offices) to discuss the topic “Expectations versus reality in data-driven healthcare – how do we solve the medical data conundrum?”. We had two speakers: Karn Ghosh, CEO and founder of health-tech firm Hit100, and Dr Sam Prince from the Sam Prince Group and broad discussions and healthy debate among our 35 attendees. We discussed the challenges faced by health-tech businesses that arise from the current siloed, unstructured nature of health data across the Australian healthcare industry and what can be done to improve the collection and sharing of health data for the benefit of both industry participants and patients. The consensus view was that governments, health service providers, communities, individuals and emerging health tech businesses would all play a role in improving the quality of data collected, how it is stored, shared, analysed and used. These improvements will help build trust and grow consumer confidence which in turn should lead to health system efficiency improvements and better health outcomes.
  • March 27, 2019

    NBN update plus our views on sale options and timing

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    Key NBN 1H19 financials were roughly in line with expectations, but the growing number of Service Class 0 premises may be a threat to NBN’s activation targets, and an opportunity for bypass options such as fixed wireless. Given the upcoming federal election, what sale options and strategies could the Government consider in 2019?.
  • March 22, 2019

    BritBox’s muted arrival in the UK: ITV FY 2018 results

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    After the heights that Love Island and the World Cup took ITV to in H1, the broadcaster held on over the tougher last few months of 2018 to see growth in ad revenue (0.8%) and total viewing (linear and VOD, 3%). However, it was the announcement of the subscription video service BritBox—with the discussions around the “strategic partnership” with the BBC in its concluding phase—that garnered most interest. ITV’s investment in the service is modest when compared to its global competitors—up to £25 million in 2019, £40 million in 2020 and declining thereafter—but it is a prudent low-risk entry into what is an expanding but difficult market.
  • March 21, 2019

    TPG 1H19 – Business sector to be a key focus as NBN erodes Cons [...]

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    On 19th March 2019 TPG released its 1H19 results. Overall profit plunged to A$46.9mn compared to A$198.6mn 1HY18, though much of this was a result of the write down of its spectrum assets and small cells mobile network. The announcement was also the clearest indicator of TPG potentially no longer offering entry level A$60 per month NBN, echoing industry consensus that NBN pricing is unsustainable.
  • March 20, 2019

    Virgin Media UK: proceeding with caution as speed advantage comes [...]

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    After strong underlying 2018 results, the more subdued outlook for 2019 is an important shift, driven by regulatory pressure on mobile, higher programming costs, one-offs and softening demand. Lightning is continuing to drive market share gains in new build areas, and should provide a 2ppt tailwind to revenue growth in 2019, but enhanced visibility on the economics of rollout suggests that its conservative approach is a wise one. In existing build areas, Virgin Media is facing-off pricing pressure from TalkTalk on high speed, and potentially from BT on even higher ultrafast speeds, with it moderating pricing and launching a market-beating 500Mbps product in Spring 2019 in response.
  • March 15, 2019

    TikTok’s challenge to Western social media

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    Launched to the world in September 2017, TikTok is the first Chinese app to pose a serious threat to Western social media companies as it attracts hundreds of millions of Generation Z users around the globe. Privately-owned parent company Bytedance earned $7 billion in online advertising revenues in 2018 and is valued at $75 billion, placing it ahead of Uber as the world’s most valuable internet start-up, with an IPO likely this year. Bytedance’s goal of earning half its revenue outside China by 2022 is far from certain. In order to hit the target, TikTok will need to attain super scale with best-in-class revenue per user, an unlikely combination.
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  • March 12, 2019

    The future of UK video viewing: forecasts to 2028

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    Linear TV is still a mass market medium, watched by 90% of the UK population each week. However, our latest viewing forecasts predict broadcasters will account for two-thirds of all video viewing in 2028, down from c. 80% today, due to the relentless rise of online video services. Total viewing will continue to increase as more short-form content is squeezed into people’s days, particularly on portable devices, but the key battleground for eyeballs will remain the TV screen. The online shift has already had a huge impact among younger age groups, with only 55% of under-35s’ current viewing to broadcasters. Older audiences are slowly starting to follow suit, but have a long way to go.
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  • March 11, 2019

    ACCC’s Digital Platforms Inquiry – more regulation on the hor [...]

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    Google and Facebook have made their submissions relating to the ACCC’s Digital Platforms Inquiry. Both tech giants have focused their attention on the ACCC’s recommendation for the need to establish an "algorithm" regulator. If implemented it will have major consequences to the tech giants and potentially other players.
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  • March 8, 2019

    GDPR tested on Google, ad tech and Facebook

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    Recently issued regulator rulings on Google, ad tech companies and Facebook challenge prevailing online advertising practices of obtaining user consent under the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Rulings from France on Google and ad tech partners of media owners called them out for inadequate disclosure to users, and excessive merging and processing of data. In a landmark precedent for Germany, the Federal Cartel Office found that Facebook lacked “freely given” consent from users, calling its terms “exploitative” and an abuse of its dominant position, also harming competitors.
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  • March 7, 2019

    Mobile payments – New Zealand moving from cashless to walletles [...]

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    The New Zealand payments ecosystem has seen considerable disruption in the last decade with new technologies, innovations and new industry players changing the way we pay. In particular, contactless payments has laid the foundation for mobile payments with consumers increasingly looking to ditch their cards and wallets in favour of digital wallets or mobile payment apps.
  • March 6, 2019

    Sports SVOD – Can Foxtel deliver a KO?

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    Of all the video content genres, sport has the best reputation for delivering audience reach and a large number of viewers for traditional TV operators. But the rise of Sports SVOD and OTT platforms is threatening to undermine the established order. Foxtel has launched its standalone sports streaming service – Kayo Sports and signed up 100,000 subscribers within the first 3 months of launch.
  • March 4, 2019

    O2 UK delivering well on many, but not all, fronts

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    ­­­­O2’s Q4 results delivered market-leading service revenue growth of 3%, double-digit EBITDA growth, sustained strong net adds and low churn. With ARPU service revenue growth flat, all of the growth came from other service revenue including M2M (machine-to-machine) and MVNO; a lumpy category up by more than 40%. Following a period of strong outperformance, O2 will face some challenges in 2019: some cost inflation to mitigate and the risk of a churn increase following December’s outage although experience suggests this is likely to be short-lived.
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