Focus Report

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  • July 12, 2018

    Virtual Reality in 2018: Ready Player None?

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    Yet another annual hype cycle in 2018 can’t hide a tepid consumer appetite for all VR platforms and heavy weather for the industry as a whole. The launch of Oculus GO, a standalone device at an attractive price, is a milestone for VR; nevertheless, even Facebook remains worried about reach and the state of the industry. Mobile AR is still a strategic focus for Google and Apple, producing diverse applications instead of just games, but new headsets from Microsoft and Magic Leap which promise advanced MR experiences have no launch dates.
  • July 11, 2018

    Media transformation is just beginning…

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    The continued rise and dominance of Silicon Valley’s tech giants continue to vex traditional media operators and regulators, and equally, still fascinate and allure consumers and advertisers. Publishers and marketers can no longer rely on commoditised campaigns to reach target audiences, they must offer personalised and targeted experiences that consumers are willing to pay for either through attention or dollars.
  • July 6, 2018

    Westpac leads the Fintech investment charge

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    Australia’s largest banks have been very active in the fintech market. This report explores the investments that they have made and considers their contrasting approaches to those investments.
    $450.00
  • July 4, 2018

    The eSports economy – it’s just getting started…

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    eSports has grown in popularity beyond being a niche form of entertainment to becoming a powerful means to engage millennial audiences. There’s significant investment from major media corporations, mainstream advertisers and professional sports franchises, demonstrating the emerging importance of eSports.
  • 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 29, 2018

    Is CRR still critical to protect advertisers from ITV?

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    The workings of the TV advertising market are a mystery to most. Overlaying an arcane ‘share of broadcast spend’ trading mechanism is regulation in the form of CRR, which has prevented anti-competitive activity by ITV since 2003. CRR will protect advertisers ‘for as long as needed’. Most advertisers we canvassed believe it should stay in place, but the sell-side and auditors say CRR has passed its ‘Best before’ date and is heading towards its ‘Use by’ date. We propose a review of CRR by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to determine whether it is now helping or hindering the TV advertising ecosystem to become fit-for-purpose for the digital age.
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  • June 25, 2018

    Hitting targets, but pushing too hard? TalkTalk Group Q4 2017/18 [...]

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    TalkTalk hit both its subscriber and EBITDA targets for 2017/18, but Q4 contained some worrying trends including core consumer revenue in decline despite strong subscriber growth, with strong business revenue growth compensating. It held fast on guidance for 2018/19, although the 15% target underlying EBITDA growth is largely driven by regulated cost cuts, and revenue growth may be (again) achieved through the business side, which will be purely wholesale following the sale of its direct business customer base. Having spent the last few years not growing retail subscribers enough in a growing market, TalkTalk is now perhaps trying to grow too fast in a mature market, putting pressure on its ARPU from new and existing customers alike.  
  • June 15, 2018

    BBC iPlayer Boxsets: performance and what it tells us about on-de [...]

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    The BBC is concerned with the performance of the iPlayer, handicapped by its inability to monetise its content. Nevertheless, as it moves towards an all-IP future, it is experimenting with new content strategies. Data from Digital-i shows that the iPlayer's Christmas Boxsets brought 360,000 unique viewers/week to the BBC portfolio; an audience which skewed encouragingly young. Furthermore, case studies of two of the programmes made available over this period—Peaky Blinders ​and ​Hard Sun—provide insight into how people consume content delivered this way, something that has been difficult to ascertain due to the major SVODs' secretive treatment of their own data.

     
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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 11, 2018

    Disruption in Premier League football? 2018 auction finally over

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    The latest auction of live Premier League broadcast rights commencing in 2019/20 has concluded at last, with three different winners for the first time. The total sum has not been confirmed, but it looks to be down c. 10% from the previous auction at £1.55 billion per season—still substantial, and not far off the BBC’s entire TV content budget. As we predicted, Sky and BT remain dominant, winning 180 of the 200 games per season, whilst new entrant Amazon picked up one of the leftover packages at what looks to be a very low price.  
  • June 7, 2018

    Mobile Visual Search: A Picture is Worth a Thousand Searches

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    In the past few years, search technologies have seen dramatic improvements with both voice and visual search emerging as alternatives to traditional text-based keyword search. While voice search may have gotten a head start, rapid improvements in AI and the quality of smartphone cameras means that Mobile Visual Search is fast catching up.
  • 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.  
  • June 4, 2018

    News brands and reader subscriptions: Towards a sustainable futur [...]

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    Print remains the primary revenue driver for most newspapers, but after 20 years of online news publishing we ask the critical question: how will publishers sustain newsrooms at scale when print has disappeared, or has contracted to a weekend luxury experience? The question needs to be answered in the context of both: 1) Rapidly declining advertising revenues in print media; and 2) A tiny and shrinking market share of digital advertising revenues. We believe these circumstances strongly imply the race for audience scale is more investor fallacy than a sustainable business prize; and besides, over-reliance on the advertising market for quality content provision is unappealing, particularly to proudly independent news publishers. Reader revenue, long assumed to be an impossibility for general quality digital news services, is the only answer. Registrations, membership and subscription models are being explored, tested, adopted or exploited by almost every major quality news provider in the US and Europe. The transition to subscription is hugely attractive, but requires first and foremost a new editorial strategy, requiring a wholesale business transformation.
  • 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 28, 2018

    Strategically challenged: Vodafone Q4 2017/18 results

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    The major change in trend evidenced in Vodafone’s Q4 results was a decline in mobile service revenue growth in Germany by 2ppts on the December quarter, in spite of record contract net adds and improving growth trends from its competitors. At least part of this deterioration is likely due to its strategic focus on converged products; we estimate discounts of around one third and question the rationale for this initiative, particularly given the admission that this is distracting from the core mobile business. Vodafone’s guidance for 1-5% group EBITDA growth next year reflects the challenging outlook and uncertainty in southern European markets, a more positive view on the UK, with Vodafone’s German strategy a major swing factor.          
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  • May 25, 2018

    Retailing in the material world

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    Ecommerce has grown to 17.5% of retail spend, and accounts for almost all growth in spend. Physical retailers are beginning to feel the effects, with chains reporting falling profits and even bringing in administrators. The UK picture is muddied by a general lack of economic recovery, and irrelevant comparisons with the US. Finished goods stores, however, are clearly under extreme pressure. We are moving into a retail paradigm of online and offline elements being freely matched. To survive this transition, brick and mortar retailers have to become differentiated experiences and close the data gap with e-retailers      
  • 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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  • May 21, 2018

    Virgin Media Q1 2018 results: Good, but beware headlines

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    The highlight of Virgin Media’s Q1 results was the return to growth for its UK cable ARPU (+1.3%), although the improvement in trend should be interpreted with caution due to accounting changes. Headline group revenue growth of 5.2% was boosted by profit-neutral handset sales, with underlying growth of around 3.2% – still strong in the sector context. Virgin Media continues to do relatively well in the increasingly challenging UK broadband market, but with evidence of limited pricing power, sluggish roll-out and subscriber growth, revenue trends look set to slow.    
  • May 18, 2018

    Vodafone/Liberty Global deal: Slim economics and regulatory risk

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    Vodafone’s acquisition of Liberty's assets in Germany and Central Europe is likely to face regulatory scrutiny at the EU – and possibly also German – level. We view Vodafone’s expectation of closure in mid-2019 with no remedies as unlikely. The economics of the deal for Vodafone are slim, highly reliant on extracting sizeable synergies, and vulnerable to operational risk and potential remedies for regulatory approval, particularly in Germany. While we see some synergy benefit from combining two cable assets in Germany, we are unconvinced of meaningful benefits from combined fixed/mobile offerings.          
  • Spotify’s freemium model gains traction
    Spotify’s freemium model gains traction
    May 17, 2018

    Wall St Shuffle: Spotify’s non-IPO

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    Spotify is now the world’s first publicly listed on-demand music streaming service. Its global footprint generated €4 billion in 2017 from over 70 million paying subscribers and 90 million ad-funded users across 65 countries. As it expands, the service is steadily but surely moving ever closer to profitability, with a 2019 operating profit a very real prospect. So far and for the near future, Spotify’s global pre-eminence versus competition from Apple, Amazon and Google proves remarkably resilient. Plans to build upon its differentiating features will become ever more decisive as the tech titans will continue to wield their resources and ecosystems against the comparatively undiversified company.      
  • May 15, 2018

    Covert growth in UK mobile

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    The UK mobile market is growing strongly – we estimate revenues by 5% and EBITDA by 8% in 2017 – excluding one-off regulatory drags and the loss of non-profit-generating handset revenue. Regulatory price cuts end in mid-2018, and the handset effect will disappear from all reported figures from April 2018, leaving scope for very positive headline growth next year – considerably better than its European comparators and the sluggish UK fixed market. The outlook for the UK mobile industry is the best it has been in a decade, with significant growth in data demand, price increases, some supply constraints, rational competition, and major regulatory drags rapidly fading.          
  • May 14, 2018

    Video viewing forecasts to 2027: continued divergence by age grou [...]

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    Our latest forecasts predict traditional broadcasters will account for 72% of all video viewing in 2027, down from an estimated 82% in 2017, reflecting the continuing adoption of online video services across all UK age groups. Additional viewing of online short-form content such as YouTube will keep pushing overall volumes higher, with SVOD services serving more as a substitution for linear TV. The extent will be greater among younger age groups, for whom the shift has already been significant. We predict that in 10 years just 42% of 16-34s’ total viewing will be to conventional broadcasters versus 91% for the over-55s.      
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  • May 13, 2018

    Bad health habits?

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    Australia's overall health expenditure is growing faster than GPD - with no end is sight. Mega demographic trends such as ageing population suggest that our health costs as measured as a percentage of GDP will continue to grow for the foreseeable future. This places ongoing pressure on Governments and individuals to find the funding to support our health. The almost out of control tends with chronic avoidable diseases are a worrying concern. However, its not clear that lack of education is the only problem do we just have terrible health habits?  If so, what can be done about its and who (governments, health insurers, health providers or individuals) should be responsible.
     
  • May 10, 2018

    NBN update: more fibre + better pricing will lead to higher speed [...]

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    The NBN has made significant progress on improving speed uptake on its network in the past six months driven by the pricing changes announced in November 2017. However, customer complaints that continue to rise as the rollout progresses and an increasing threat from fixed wireless substitutes continue to weigh on the future of the NBN.
  • European mobile in Q4 2016
    European mobile in Q4 2016
    May 9, 2018

    European privacy: New Wave in the Old World

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    For much of the online media industry, GDPR compliance has stalled at basic data audits and box ticking, as firms wait for the rest of the privacy regime to emerge. But weighing technicalities of legitimate interest and consent misses the point: transparent consumer value will be the only sustainable basis for processing personal data. The scrutiny of Google and Facebook privacy practices involves an added antitrust dimension, potentially leading to processing limits as remedies.  
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  • May 8, 2018

    Trinity Mirror and Northern & Shell raise regulatory hackles

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    The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) halted the merger of the publishing assets of Trinity Mirror and Northern & Shell, and is inquiring into the merger’s likely impact on competition in the national newspaper market. The CMA will take into account efficiencies of £20 million in newsrooms, printing and advertising sales, which if realised could help sustain national news provision in a failing print market transitioning to digital services. Secretary of State (SoS) Matt Hancock has issued a Public Interest Intervention Notice (PIIN) citing newspaper public interest (PI) grounds, on concerns the TM/N&S merger may be contrary to the public interest
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