Focus Report

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  • May 7, 2018

    Blockchain: Reinventing the wheel

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    Despite the hype, systems based on the technology underlying bitcoin are a poor match for most use-cases. The term 'blockchain' is nowadays applied to technologies with shared aims and ideals rather than technological unity; few – if any – of these aims require true blockchain, any many are double-edged swords. The promises of blockchain are seductive in the context of programmatic online advertising, but are over-sold.
  • May 3, 2018

    Grand new ideas for the content industry: Lessons from GDC 2018

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    Last month’s Game Developer’s Conference in San Francisco was a triumphant showcase for crossover technologies and ideas designed to attract and engage new customers; ideas coming soon to all parts of the digital entertainment industry. Google and Facebook launched new “Instant App” technologies for game developers on their platforms, which will eventually have a significant impact on mobile app curation and discovery for not just games but the broader entertainment sector. Universal Pictures showed how media and entertainment companies should be working with indie developers to drive franchise development, utilise creative IP, and bring new ideas to market quicker.
  • May 2, 2018

    Small Cells Part 1: Leveraging Public Infrastructure

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    Recent public infrastructure deals have demonstrated the joint benefits of combining smart city rollouts with mobile networks. Venture expects more infrastructure deals to be completed as governments recognise the clear public policy benefits and Telcos roll out 5G networks faster.
  • May 1, 2018

    Sky Q3 2017/18 results: ever more attractive

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    Sky posted yet another set of solid results, with revenues up 5% and operating profits up 10%, despite weakening operating metrics in Germany & Austria. Deals with Netflix and Spotify will enhance the customer experience, signalling Sky's confidence in its platform, perhaps a sign of further deals to come. A successful outcome from February’s Premier League auction sealed the prospect of a takeover battle for Sky, with Comcast launching its formal bid this week.
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    April 27, 2018

    Brexit Update: Domestic Issues

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    Despite apparent instability of the political climate in Westminster, the direction of travel is predictable as both main parties share the aim of Brexit. The big fight in Parliament is over the future trade policy of the UK. Officially, the UK wants to agree a Free Trade Area (FTA) with the EU, while the Labour Party and Tory rebels hope a Customs Union (CU) prevails, binding the UK to the EU’s trade policy. The Supreme Court is about to hear the UK Government’s challenge to legislation passed by the devolved nations of Scotland and Wales, which claim their consent is required for policies on agriculture, fisheries and the environment.
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  • April 26, 2018

    The Influence of Bots on Fake News

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    Fake accounts could represent up to 15% of a digital platform’s total accounts and generate a high proportion of activity. Whilst, digital platform providers are taking some steps to prevent fake bot accounts, it is likely that Governments will set regulation to ensure providers formalise monitoring, blocking and labelling processes.
  • April 19, 2018

    Fox offers sale of Sky News to clear merger

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    The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) will report on the public interest (PI) aspects of the Fox/Sky merger on 1 May to Secretary of State (SoS) Matt Hancock, who will announce his decision on 13 June to the Commons. Fox has offered to sell Sky News to Disney, which will prevent the Murdoch family from ever exercising control or influence and might appease opponents of the merger. The CMA is likely to advise the SoS to clear the merger, conditional on the Sky News sale to Disney, which the SoS could accept. Fox will then participate in the end-game for Sky, where Comcast is also a determined bidder.
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  • April 18, 2018

    Sky’s Italian strategic breakthrough

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    After losing money for 13 years fighting Sky, Mediaset has given up. The two have agreed to wholesale channels to each other, and Sky gained the option to take over the infrastructure of terrestrial pay platform Mediaset Premium, in a deal designed to pass antitrust muster. The main strategic upside for Sky resides in eventual access to content from Italian FTA channels, allowing it to become the country’s ‘universal’ platform. Meanwhile, Mediaset may find it easier to resolve its dispute with France’s Vivendi now that the broadcaster has got rid of its main cash drain. Sky remains the only major potential buyer of the 2018-21 Serie A rights, to be sold on 21 April. However, due to the league’s unrealistic expectations and the faulty platform-based auction design, the auction may be aborted for a third time, raising the risk that heavily indebted clubs resort to short-term fixes.
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  • April 13, 2018

    Media Roundtable Breakfast – key findings: MarTech and AdTech [...]

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    With technology continuing to improve and the known pitfalls of both Advertising technology and Marketing technology apparent, a convergence of these technologies will take place sooner rather than later giving more control to advertisers. Designing an advertising campaign has always been slow and somewhat clunky, however new technology platforms are speeding up the optimisation process allowing campaigns to be improved and optimised in real time. However, this increased control means little if the vast majority of inventory and customer data is controlled by a small number of players.
  • April 12, 2018

    TV set viewing trends: ‘Unmatched’ viewing growth and cha [...]

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    Despite the continued decline of linear TV set viewing through 2017 (-4%) and the first 12 weeks of 2018 (-3%), overall TV set usage remains flat at 4 hours/day due to the continued rise of unmatched activities (+19% in both cases). We consider the recent growth of unmatched use to be predominantly due to viewing of online-only services (i.e. Netflix, Amazon and YouTube), since time spent gaming is unlikely to have changed dramatically. The increase in unmatched usage since 2014 exceeds the total viewing to the most-watched broadcast channels for all age groups under 35. Within the shrinking pie of consolidated TV set viewing, market shares remain broadly flat. However, several key digital channels have shown surprising signs of recent decline, reflecting stalling growth from the multichannel long tail versus the main PSB channels.
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  • April 11, 2018

    UK mobile market Q4 2017: Swings, roundabouts, and auctions

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    UK mobile service revenue growth worsened to 0.9% in the quarter from 1.5% in the previous quarter, although this was entirely due to an ARPU drop in BT/EE’s business segment. BT/EE’s consumer business is still growing strongly, and all the other operators improved their growth due to the EU roaming cut impact reducing in intensity. Looking forward, there are no further regulatory shocks on the horizon, and the annual price increases implemented in March/April are higher than previous years due to higher underlying rates of inflation. While SIM-only is likely to continue to rise, we still expect revenue growth in 2018 to be robustly positive at a similar or higher level than that of 2017. In the recent 4G/5G auction, O2 won all of the currently useable 4G spectrum available, and the 5G spectrum was split between all four operators, with H3G winning less that the others but (combined with its existing holdings) being nonetheless the largest 5G spectrum holder.
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  • April 10, 2018

    Hey Siri – What is the potential of Digital Voice Assistants in [...]

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    Voice as an interface is fast emerging as major interaction platform in the digital ecosystem. Rapid adoption has led to a growing appetite among businesses to build voice-focused experiences. From a media perspective it is therefore important to understand how digital voice assistants will evolve, their potential use cases and the implications for businesses.
  • April 5, 2018

    Facebook’s data breach – an inflection point for internet pri [...]

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    As Facebook has become increasingly popular, marketers have found it far easier to combine our online personas with our offline selves to enable better ad targeting, leading to concerns around how much data do they actually have. However the Cambridge Analytica data breach could emerge as the ‘line in the sand’ moment for not just Facebook but online data privacy as a whole.
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    March 28, 2018

    Value in volumes: Books, midlists and retail

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    There are signs of hollowing-out in the book trade: a lack of disruption at the top line obscures the fact that mid-selling breakthrough titles are becoming rarer, debuting authors is becoming more difficult and loyalty is declining. Publisher tools to overcome these trends are weakening, while self-publishing has introduced fierce competition in price, if not yet quality. To fight the tide, publishers will need to concentrate on the remaining points of differentiation, as well as preserving dedicated retail channels and changing conceptions around reader relations.
  • March 27, 2018

    OK Google: The rise of Voice Assistants in Australia

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    The rapid growth in voice search technologies and the increasing penetration of Digital Voice Assistants indicates that voice search is fast emerging as a significant computing platform with the potential for a direct-to-consumer relationship.
  • March 26, 2018

    Time Inc. UK magazine portfolio

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    At the end of January 2018, the acquisition of Time Inc. by rivals Meredith Corporation closed for $2.8bn. Time Inc. had already been in the process of selling its UK arm, which completed on March 19 to private equity fund Epiris LLP for an estimated £130m. The Time Inc. UK portfolio is a reasonably diverse one, with the following categories: Entertainment, Fashion & Beauty, Home & Design, Sport & Fitness and Specialist. Within the consumer magazine sector as a whole, oversupply remains the core issue, and we expect to see further closures of weaker titles benefiting category-leading brands.
  • March 26, 2018

    UK – ITV FY 2017 results: glass half full?

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    In her first results appearance as the new CEO of ITV, Dame Carolyn McCall announced a fairly good full year performance in the face of 2017’s tough ad market, with NAR and Group EBITA both down 5%. The main announcement was the start of a strategic refresh. For now, this is light on detail, but with more to come at the H1 interims. The bottom line is to improve all areas of the business through greater use of data. Under the looming threat of tech giants, increased calls for collaboration—with content producers, advertisers, and other broadcasters and platforms—could spur more tangible opportunities for significant growth in the UK public service broadcasting system.
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  • March 23, 2018

    YouTube: thinking beyond the long tail

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    Engineering excellence and user generated content (UGC) have propelled YouTube to Facebook-level reach, with growing viewing in all demographics and on the TV-set. However, the commercial limits and PR risk of its long-tail content model have prompted a diversification effort involving subscriptions and long-form content. Becoming a major part of Google’s revenue amid fierce OTT competition would require YouTube to be more flexible in its partnerships with the AV industry, and a more aggressive go-to-market strategy.
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  • March 21, 2018

    Ad blocking – Google and publishers strike back…

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    Ad blockers have had a huge impact on the online advertising landscape in the past few years. This impact will grow larger as the popularity of ad blockers reaches a critical mass on desktop as well as mobile.  While publishers have tried multiple strategies, Google’s ad blocking move while counter-intuitive at first glance, could prove to be just the right approach to combat the rise of ad blockers.
  • March 19, 2018

    UK addressable TV has more to deliver, while online video posts r [...]

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    The market for addressable TV looks constrained despite its benefits, with Sky AdSmart taking less than 2% of overall TV ad revenues. Meanwhile, online video revenues for Google, Facebook and others have surged dramatically. Agencies are seemingly enraptured by online video – a highly profitable medium to buy – despite concerns about a lack of effectiveness, safety and transparency. For broadcasters to compete better radical collaborative action is needed including industry-wide adoption of AdSmart, and overhauling the trading arrangements which hinder its take-up.
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  • March 15, 2018

    BBC Worldwide considers the rest of UKTV

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    A change of control clause triggered by Discovery’s takeover of Scripps will grant BBC Worldwide the option to acquire the 50% of UKTV that it does not already own. With a possible price in the vicinity of the £339 million paid by Scripps in 2011 it is by no means certain that BBCW could proceed alone—so a new, minority partner may well be necessary. Discovery, on the other hand, may be keen to acquire full ownership of UKTV, while retaining a licensing arrangement for the BBC’s content. A channel portfolio containing the best of Discovery, Scripps and UKTV content built on UKTV’s strong EPG positions would transform Discovery in the UK.
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  • March 15, 2018

    Telco Roundtable Breakfast – key findings

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    As identified by our survey, fixed-mobile substitution will be a growing risk for the fixed broadband market. Telcos need to understand and manage the risk of consumers switching away from fixed-line to mobile, particularly in light of the upcoming availability of 5G. The increasing consumption of SVOD has driven the growth in fixed broadband in recent years. However, changing viewing habits, particularly towards viewership on mobile devices, could help spearhead mobile substitution. We expect pressure on fixed broadband to grow as the combination of 5G network launches and TPG’s mobile market entry will increase consumer interest and options for wireless broadband solutions.
  • March 13, 2018

    Spectrum reform – a step in the right direction

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    Rapidly developing wireless and mobile network technologies and consumers’ increasing appetite for data are driving a significant increase in demand for spectrum. With little or no changes in spectrum policy over the past two decades, the Government announced a review into spectrum allocation, regulation and licensing.
  • March 8, 2018

    Importance of News Content

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    In an increasingly digital world, the free flow of information has lowered the value of paid news. News providers, which could earlier rely on advertising to subsidise journalism, continue to face aggressive competition from global tech giants and are being forced to find new revenue streams