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  • February 26, 2019

    Seven and Nine 1H19 update – increasing share in a declining ma [...]

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    Seven West Media and Nine Entertainment reported their 1HFY19 earnings last week. With a challenging environment for the core FTA business, traditional broadcasters must focus on improving audience share, driving new audience growth through digital content offerings and taking costs out of the business.
    Sector .
  • February 22, 2019

    BT Global Services: Playing a bad hand as well as it can

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    BTGS’s strategic plan seems like a sensible move in a very challenging market but it heralds its transition to a new operating model where its competitive advantage is largely eroded, its addressable market squeezed and it is arguably sub-scale. Although hybrid infrastructure and revenues from transition to cloud-based IT will provide something of a cushion, guidance and consensus forecasts are too optimistic in our view – cost-cutting plans are therefore likely deficient. Longer term, with IT services increasingly easy for corporates to manage themselves, diminished appetite for hybrid networks and global giants such as Amazon, Microsoft and Google squeezing out the middle-man, the space that BTGS occupies is likely to be considerably smaller.
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  • February 22, 2019

    Time to create an addressable UK TV market

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    Addressable linear TV advertising, where precision-targeted ads overlay default linear ads, could enhance the TV proposition for advertisers, agencies and viewers, benefiting all broadcasters. In the context of dwindling linear viewing and rocketing online video ad spends, the adoption of Sky AdSmart and similar services on YouView and Freeview could take addressable TV ads from a sideshow to a pillar of revenue. Addressable linear is a bigger and more strategic prize for broadcasters than BVOD ads. Sky holds the key to wider adoption of its AdSmart platform if it can find a way – or a price – to bring ITV Sales and/or 4 Sales on board.
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  • February 21, 2019

    BT Q3 2018/19 results: Openreach stronger than it looks, but Cons [...]

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    BT’s Q3 results were a little mixed, with mobile particularly weak, but the company remains on track to meet/exceed its (fairly conservative) guidance for the current year, and hit (modest) consensus expectations for 2019/20. Openreach was very weak at the headline level (-9%), but stripping out an accounting effect and internal revenue the division grew by 2% by our estimates despite significant price cuts, and full fibre roll-out is progressing well. While Openreach should accelerate this year, Consumer will be hit by a price rise holiday and slowing mobile, with investors likely having to wait for existing sports rights contracts to play out to see significant profitability improvement.
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  • February 20, 2019

    Australian Telco Breakfast Roundtable: Five key discussion topics [...]

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    Background
    • On 19 February 2018, Venture Insights conducted a telco industry breakfast roundtable (in Melbourne and Sydney) to discuss the following five key topics for 2019. The consensus view was that these topics are both inter-related and very dependent on government decisions and future policy. In that regard, Australia is seen as unique to the extent to which government policy has determined market structure in the telco industry.
    Five key discussion topics for 2019
    • Will 5G leadership lead to market share gain and ARPU increases?
    • Will 2019 be the year of take-off for fixed wireless broadband substitution?
    • Will there be consolidation in the IoT market in 2019?
    • Will the Government announce its NBN sale strategy in 2019?
    • What will be the outcome of the proposed TPG – VHA merger?
    Sector .
  • February 19, 2019

    Domain 1HFY19 update: pricing power and depth penetration save th [...]

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    On 15th February 2019, Domain reported its 1HFY19 earnings. Pricing power, depth penetration and adjacent businesses drove revenue growth in an otherwise tough housing market while weakness in print meant overall revenue growth was flat YoY.
    Sector .
  • February 18, 2019

    Telstra and Optus – nbn pain, falling ARPUs and the fight for 5 [...]

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    On 14th February 2019 Optus and Telstra announced their latest earnings. Both revenue and earnings remained subdued as subscriber growth was offset by a slowdown in NBN migration payments, and continuing pressure on mobile ARPUs. 5G and Fixed Wireless remain key growth areas going forward.
    Sector .
  • February 14, 2019

    UK Cairncross: platforms intervention to save news

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    The Cairncross Review has now reported on the tough question of “how to sustain production and distribution of high quality journalism in a rapidly changing technology environment”. New codes of conduct for the platforms and publishers are the Review’s key policy recommendation. In particular, the Review addresses the sustainability of public interest, including local, journalism. This news is important for democracy, but expensive to do well, not particularly popular and most sabotaged by an online ecosystem that rewards traffic over quality. This is a landmark public intervention, but implementation will be critical, even if there is no silver bullet – platforms, publishers and citizens need to rise to the challenge.
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  • February 12, 2019

    Wobbles ahead for TalkTalk’s fine balancing act

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    TalkTalk is delivering on its subscriber and revenue growth targets but is straining to get there. Price rises such as a £4 ‘TV access fee’ look increasingly risky. Whilst migrating to discounted high-speed helps to deliver top-line growth, margins are c. 40% lower; an unwelcome dent to already negative cashflow and stressed leverage. Both TalkTalk’s focus on revenue growth in a tight market and fibre rollout plans look increasingly unaffordable; a more modest ambition of stable revenues might allow a healthier business model to unfold.
    Sector .
  • February 11, 2019

    REA Group 1HFY19 update: growth in a challenging environment

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    On 8th February 2019, REA Group reports its 1HFY19 earnings. Core Australian business continues to drive earnings and revenue growth in spite of a tough macro environment but a write-down in the Asia business impacted earnings for 1HFY19.
  • February 7, 2019

    TPGs merger strategy must focus on potential merger undertakings [...]

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    The ACCC has extended its decision time for the proposed TPG-VHA merger and has raised preliminary concerns that it will lead to a substantial lessening of competition. TPG has announced that it has ceased the rollout of its mobile network. Our report looks at the likelihood of whether the TPG/VHA merger will be approved given the potential no-merger test options which the ACCC could consider. 
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  • February 6, 2019

    UK Retail news update for January 2019

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    The volume of retail sales (excluding fuel) rose 2.6% for the year 2018, thanks to improved consumer sentiment on the back of the Royal Wedding, FIFA World Cup and warmer weather. With no special events in 2019, the environment for retailing will be bleaker, with or without no-deal Brexit. December retail sales volumes rose 1.7% year-on-year, less than half the pace of November, as consumers shifted spend to Black Friday/Cyber Monday. We predict the trend will amplify in 2019, as consumers increasingly target their spending on discounted products, with direct implications for the timing and nature of advertising. The value of retail sales (excluding fuel) was up 4% in 2018 as a whole, masking the tale of woe on the high street. Offline sales fell 1%, while online sales boomed, growing 14% in value, a structural trend for 2019.
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  • February 5, 2019

    Why does Amazon sell the Echo?

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    Smart speakers like the Amazon Echo and Google Home accelerated their prodigious rate of adoption in Q4 2018, and we expect they will soon be in 20% of UK homes. Amazon and Google price devices low to drive adoption to mass-market levels and win the race to own the home, in contrast to Apple’s profit-making strategy for its speaker. Echo’s main strategic benefits to Amazon are the scope for data collection and the intelligence it supports, and gatekeeping partners’ access to customers.
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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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  • February 1, 2019

    Netflix’s local content push in the UK

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    With the UK perhaps Netflix’s most valuable market outside the US—home to a stellar production sector—the streaming service is escalating its foray into local production, opening a content hub in London and moving from co-productions to direct commissions. As UK content completely dominates UK video viewing outside of the SVODs, to expand subscription reach Netflix is endeavouring to become an alternative to the PSBs’ entertainment output; this local spend is efficient given the universality and worldwide appetite for British content. With a growing proportion of local content expenditure now coming from Netflix and other SVODs, there are ramifications for both broadcasters and producers—loss of viewing, potential market pressure, increased competition for premium content and hesitancy around their own SVOD plans—along with implications for the cultural landscape.
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  • January 31, 2019

    Grappling for green shoots at Vodafone UK

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    Vodafone’s revenue trends took another step backwards this quarter (down almost 3% on our estimates) with its strongest markets (UK and Germany) weakening unexpectedly. The reiteration of their financial guidance and commitment to cost-reduction provides some reassurance although nothing in the results provides grounds for optimism; churn is not really falling and is not correlated to convergence. With the UK mobile market delivering its strongest growth in 7 years last quarter, these results may be a precursor for a more challenging outlook with Vodafone citing pressure from business pricing and out-of-bundle limits, and the outlook for RPI-linked price increases diminishing.
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  • January 30, 2019

    Netcomm Wireless: From modems to m2m to fixed wireless and 5G

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    In the past six years, NetComm Wireless has transformed itself from internet modem manufacturer to a leading telco equipment supplier in a range of complex wireless and fixed line technologies to Tier 1 telcos across the world. With 5G just around the corner, NetComm is investing heavily to leverage its experience in fixed wireless and position itself as a leading supplier of fixed wireless technology to major telcos across the world.
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  • January 30, 2019

    TPG’s mobile announcement will shift focus to the ongoing compe [...]

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    TPGs decision to cease its mobile rollout reduces the prospects for a 4th mobile operator in Australia. The MVNO market is highly competitive in metro regions and looks set to become stronger. We expect the ACCC to turn its focus on the ongoing competitiveness of the MVNO market.
    Sector .
  • January 17, 2019

    Apple and Amazon bury the hatchet

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    Amazon’s recent deals with Apple in TV, music and device sales mark a turning point after a decade of frosty relations. The context for this involves shifting priorities at both firms, growing pressure on Apple’s iPhone business, and rivals in common — first and foremost Google, but also the likes of Netflix and Spotify. The uneasy alliance helps both companies consolidate their strengths in the platform competition over media and the connected home — but trouble already brews.
  • January 15, 2019

    Six ways 5G will change the future of media and entertainment

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    The media industry has been at the receiving end of significant disruption and innovation in the past decade. With 5G around the corner, the media industry is set for another round of innovation albeit this time with the opportunity to significantly improve their content offerings and provide a more richer video experience for consumers.
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  • December 19, 2018

    DAZN: lofty ambitions in OTT sports

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    With sport at the heart of the pay-TV ecosystem, dedicated online-only streaming services could emerge as a threat to leading players like Sky. The liveliest newcomer, DAZN, launched in 2016 with mostly second-tier sports. Now in seven markets and counting, it has recently made bold moves into top-flight competitions, notably in Italy, albeit as a secondary player. History has not been kind to those challenging pay-TV incumbents by selling sports unbundled—particularly in Europe, as Setanta, ESPN, beIN SPORTS and Mediaset can testify. If DAZN can stick to secondary positions in premium rights, or simply less-expensive sports, perhaps it will fare better.  
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  • December 14, 2018

    Iliad running out of luck

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    Once on the winning side of strategic French telecoms price wars thanks to a struggling SFR, Iliad now looks wounded, and a possible prey, suffering from declining fixed and mobile KPIs – we expect cash flow losses of €617 million this year. Broadband, in a capex-heavy migration to higher margin fibre, may stabilise revenue with (somewhat) differentiating new ‘Freeboxes’ bundled with Netflix. Mobile (€2.3 billion burned since launch) hopes rest on on-net transition fostering profitability, but the 5G capex race looms. The new Italian mobile venture is explicitly and surprisingly behind the French legacy: it is already delivering a worse performance, and carrying much higher outlays (after 5G auctions spiralled). We believe Iliad has to revamp its model in France and consider differentiation with content to escape the discount brand trap.
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  • December 13, 2018

    ACCC Digital Platforms Inquiry – Google and Facebook have just [...]

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    On 11th December 2018, the ACCC released its preliminary report on the Digital Platforms Inquiry, and one thing is certain – Google and Facebook won’t be happy after reading it. The draft recommendations are extensive and call for significant changes to privacy and consumer protection laws and new regulatory oversight to monitor and curb the market power exerted by Google and Facebook.
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  • December 12, 2018

    UK TV advertising and consumer health check in Q4 2018

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    Despite the consumer's confidence having been shaken since the referendum vote for Brexit in June 2016, monthly retail sales, especially online, managed to grow above the private consumption trend until this October, a turning point that could mark the start of a retail recession extending into 2019. Since mid-2016, TV advertising and retailing have lost their historical covariance, with TV advertising's recession briefly interrupted in the first half of the year due to sunny weather and the FIFA World Cup. After a flat Q3, we predict a resumption of TV advertising's decline, expected to be down 3-4% in Q4 2018 year-on-year. 2018 will be flat for total TV advertising, still better than 2017. However, the medium's weakness will persist in the first half of 2019, with hopes for a recovery only in the second half, assuming an orderly withdrawal from the EU starts in March 2019.
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