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  • March 22, 2017

    360 and Virtual Reality: a new angle for video entertainment

    The temporary cool-off in hype around VR following a very buzzy 2016 is not reducing the flow of investment and talent into the industry, notably in video production utilising 360Video technology; setting the stage for the development of a truly new entertainment medium. Fully immersive interactive worlds will continue to be the mainstay of the video games industry, while video entertainment will exist in a multi-track environment, with some genres (news, documentaries , natural history) making 360Video mainstream well before long-form narrative-driven entertainment. 2017 will still be a challenging year for consumer device VR roll-out and mass market adoption; Oculus, Google, and Sony continue to seed the market, providing large scale funding and equipment directly to developers and content producers.

  • March 21, 2017

    21CF and the bid for Sky: state of play

    Secretary of State Karen Bradley has intervened on two UK public interest grounds in 21CF’s bid for 100% ownership of Sky: media plurality, as in 2010, and a commitment to broadcasting standards, new in 2017. Ofcom will assess any implications of 21CF’s full control of Sky on whether it is ‘fit and proper’ to hold a broadcast licence, reporting back on 16 May. Undertakings are a live issue in the 2016 bid, notably to protect the editorial independence of Sky News, noting the bid faces determined opposition from certain quarters.
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  • March 14, 2017

    The last demographic: How is TV catering for its oldest and most [...]

    Linear television's audience is ageing; with the drop in viewing by younger demographics, consistent viewership by the over 65s has seen them increase their share of total viewing since 2010 from 24% to 31%. The difficulties and efforts to re-engage with the younger cohorts are well documented. But what of the resilient, older group that forms the stable core of the television audience? Conspicuous attempts are being made to create specific shows targeted at the oldest viewers, but outside of limited categories, creating relevant programming may be more difficult than expected.
  • TV platform forecasts to 2026: DTT and pay-lite set to grow
    TV platform forecasts to 2026: DTT and pay-lite set to grow
    March 8, 2017

    The connected evolution of UK TV platforms

    The past 14 months have seen a flurry of activity from the major UK television platforms, with all but one releasing a revamped version of their television offering; a neccessary reaction to the rise of VOD consumption and the threat this poses to traditional models. The result is 'connected' offerings, with the major players aiming to exploit the impact of this technology by seamlessly integrating on-demand capabilities, and in doing so mitigate the further shockwaves resulting from its emergence. No offering is likely to single-handedly alter the current subscriber landscape radically; with the pay platforms' each taking a unique—and to a degree—entrenched path that affirms its core consumer base, the greatest shifting of sands will likely come from changes in consumer trends or content quality.

  • March 7, 2017

    Mobile World Congress: a look at tech & media

    Smartphone hardware did not take centre stage at the year’s premier mobile industry event in Barcelona, with license-built Nokias generating as much excitement as flagship smartphones from HTC, Sony and Samsung. In VR, AR and IoT, the most impressive signs of progress were under the hood rather than in flashy device announcements – as the actual use cases become more specific, so does hardware and software. Concrete business applications around the personal data generated by connected mobile devices was a major theme, with new types of automation and personalisation in services and media – and a growing market for security.

  • February 28, 2017

    ComCom says no to ‘Skodafone’ – What now?

    The proposed merger of Sky TV and Vodafone in New Zealand was rejected by the Commerce Commission on 23rd February 2017. We discuss the reasoning behind this decision as well as the wider implications for Sky TV, Vodafone and the industry.
  • February 28, 2017

    Fashion’s new look: digital sets new trends

    Fashion underpins the growth of ecommerce; online took a 14% share of all fashion retail in the UK last year and is set to rise further, challenging the economics of physical retail. Mobile is a key driver, it is changing research and shopping habits, and in turn affecting supplier product cycles, merchandising and marketing strategies. Social media has disrupted the traditional shopping funnel, changing how trends and styles proliferate and shifting the sites of authority and influence in a £66 billion sector.
  • February 27, 2017

    Amazon’s ad business: shoppers for sale

    Amazon’s marketing services bring in a growing stream of direct, high-margin revenue, but their main role is still in supporting vendor partnerships. Amazon uses customer profile data to profit from its own media and that of others, illustrating the value of a direct customer relationship in online advertising. In the future, Amazon’s moves into video content and voice interfaces are likely to significantly expand ad inventory, but maintaining the trust of shoppers is not straightforward.

  • February 24, 2017

    Virgin Media Q4 2016 results: Accelerated build, delayed benefits

    Virgin Media successfully ramped up its network extension in Q4, passing more than double the homes in the previous quarter, and above the rate required to meet 2017 expectations. Net customer additions were, however, relatively weak, entirely due to extra churn caused by the price increase implemented in the quarter. The price increase’s effect on ARPU and revenue growth was muted by ARPU discounting for new customers, leaving revenue growth broadly unchanged. Subscriber growth has already improved in early 2017, and is likely to continue to improve through the year. The discounted ARPU impact will be more sustained, but robust revenue growth is still likely throughout the year.
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    February 8, 2017

    Apple TV: Is video streaming taking the lead in TV consumption?

    The video streaming market continues to grow with a greater number of devices being sold year on year and the four big players in video streaming devices continue to compete for market share. We discuss the changes to consumer behaviour driving this growth and what impact this might have on the wider TV market and look further into Apple TV and how their new update has affected their position in the market.
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    February 7, 2017

    TalkTalk Group Q3 2016/17 results: Weak quarter, reassuring guida [...]

    TalkTalk had a weak quarter, as was pre-warned, with the decline in the broadband base accelerating and consumer revenue growth of -6% slightly worse than the previous quarter. Guidance was however very bullish, with the company confident that it can bounce back to return to positive net adds in the March quarter, while still hitting its profitability guidance. This looks a difficult task in a market which is still highly competitive, but if it can achieve it, the longer term aim of a stable customer base and growing revenue and profits looks much more plausible.
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    February 6, 2017

    Enterprise cloud on the horizon

    Enterprise cloud computing democratises access to IT capacity ranging from specialised software to platforms to infrastructure, transforming cost structures in sectors like media and retail. Cloud enables unprecedented scalability of bandwidth for digital media services like Pokémon Go and Netflix, while also hosting the back-end for advertisers and retailers. As the industry consolidates quickly, intense competition among Amazon, Microsoft and Google is delivering value to customers and boosting adoption.

  • February 3, 2017

    Sky on track: H1 2017 results

    Sky H1 2017 results are broadly in line with company guidance on revenues, costs and synergies given at the 2016 Investor Day. The core focus since the formation of European Sky in November 2014 has been investment for growth in all sectors of the business (i.e. retail products, content offers and customer service), an approach that is beginning to bear fruit. Sky Italy had a notably “excellent” start to the year. Most eye-catching in the results release was the planned launch in fiscal 2018 of an IP alternative to Sky’s DTH service. That speaks volumes about the know-how Sky has accumulated over the last ten years in meeting customer demands and building customer relationships.

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    January 27, 2017

    Netflix at 10: still growing, still spending

    Netflix celebrated the 10-year anniversary of its streaming service by posting its largest quarterly rate of subscriber growth, adding just over 7m new subscribers in Q4 2016, smashing its own forecast for the period of 5.2m.

    5.12m of the new subscribers were for its international services, attributed to acceptance of its growing suite of English language original programs. But growth is just as likely related to the bolstering of overseas offerings with acquired programming, after launching worldwide with relatively small libraries.

    While re-establishing confidence after a period of doubt when missing targets in Q2, challenges await; most notably concerns around net neutrality, diversifying content genres, and the open question as to how effectively original programming will be able to carry the service.

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    January 13, 2017

    Music subscription streaming 2017

    Streaming is now mainstream and we predict 113% growth in expenditure on subscriptions for 2015-18 in the top four markets (US, UK, Germany and France).

    Free vs paid-for streaming is the central question for the music ecosystem: free yields fractions of pennies, making subscription the only credible business model.

    Market leader Spotify is facing competition from tech giants Amazon, Apple and Google, with deep pockets, for whom content is a pawn in a larger game.

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    December 20, 2016

    Amazon ready for global Prime time

    Amazon Prime Video has recently launched in over 200 countries, including Australia and New Zealand. We discuss the impact of this launch to the subscription Video-on-Demand market within Australia, and consider the ongoing impact into the future, including the rise of Amazon retail services within Australia.
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    December 13, 2016

    Internet Trends – Consumer behaviours driving market trends

    As smartphone ownership nears saturation in almost all consumer groups, the base for the UK digital economy is widening: media consumption continues to move to connected devices and use of consumer services on mobile grows. Ecommerce is now responsible for 75% of retail growth, steady even during periods of decline for the overall market. Google and Facebook take up almost 90% of gross online advertising growth this year, and the ecommerce and mobile service markets show early signs of platform concentration.
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    December 12, 2016

    Advertising ups and downs in 2017

    Brexit has not noticeably depressed advertising spend in 2016, as consumer spend is buoyant, fueled by borrowing and lower savings. Yet, businesses are being cautious as uncertainty weighs on the future rules of trade with the EU. We forecast total advertising spend to rise by 0.6% at constant prices in 2017, almost entirely due to digital growth, which is expanding the total advertising market. Its share has soared from 1% in 2000 and looks likely to hit 50% in 2017. Up to now digital growth has always been at the expense of print and not television, but this could just be changing as mobile increasingly holds centre stage for the consumer.

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    December 9, 2016

    Auto classified marketplace: From lifestyle to driverless future

    This is the third and final report in our annual review of vertical marketplaces (classifieds), focused on used cars, and follows Vertical marketplaces overview and recruitment outlook [2016-116] and Property classified marketplace [2016-119]. Auto Trader continues to dominate online auto listings, accounting for 85% of UK revenues in 2015 by our estimates as total UK online auto spend increased 13%.  We believe that growth will slow to -7% this year and low single digits in 2017/18 as Brexit bites and consumer confidence retreats, although used and new car sales have so far remained buoyant since the vote. In common with the other classified verticals we see a period of sustained innovation on the horizon which will challenge the existing market leaders; data provision rather than audience listings will likely become the main source of value to advertisers while further out the advent of autonomous vehicles promises to disrupt the established structure of the entire auto industry.
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    December 5, 2016

    Property classified marketplace

    This is the second of three reports in our annual review of vertical marketplaces (classifieds), focused on property, and follows Vertical marketplaces overview and recruitment classified outlook [2016-116]. Stamp duty reforms and the impact of the Brexit referendum triggered a -10% fall in UK residential property sales between April and October 2016 and the consensus among estate agents and commentators is that the property slowdown will continue into 2016/17 as buyer confidence recedes. As a result, we expect UK property classified advertising to slip into decline in 2016/17 driven by losses in print, while online advertising growth will slow to low single digitsIn the online market, while Rightmove continues to deliver outstanding financial results from its simple listings model, we believe that a new phase of innovation is imminent. Consumers are demanding enhanced services through data and personalisation, and there is clear potential for virtual/augmented reality and artificial intelligence to disrupt the market in the longer term.  
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    December 2, 2016

    Brexit impact on UK-EU trade in creative services

    Brexit poses direct risks to exports to the Continent of regulated services, such as audiovisual (AV) media services, if the UK ceases to qualify for the Single Market. Since 1994, the EU has formalised a ‘cultural exception’ in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and in all trade agreements aside from the European Economic Area (EEA). Many countries have emulated the policy since, making it challenging for the UK’s AV cluster to gain significant additional market access from future bilateral trade deals.

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    November 30, 2016

    UK digital ad forecast 2016-2018

    The UK digital ad market has been resilient in the immediate aftermath of the Brexit vote, and set to reach £10 billion in annual value by early next year. Growth is likely to remain strong even in the face of a possible economic slowdown next year, thanks to continuing growth of ecommerce and online media consumption. We expect media budgets to come under pressure, and this could be to the advantage of digital, which often provides better attribution of short term return on investment; we could see a “flight to attributability”. Within digital, growth is concentrated on video, social in-feed and search advertising on mobile, while desktop display is in decline: 2016 will be the first full calendar year when digital desktop ad spend is down year-on-year in the UK. Of this growth, Google and Facebook account for close to 90%, thanks to their leading offerings in the fastest-growing categories.

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    November 28, 2016

    Vertical marketplaces overview and recruitment classified outlook

    Our annual review of vertical marketplaces (classifieds) is presented in three reports, with the first providing a summary of the key macro trends, technological developments and spending outlook for the total UK classified advertising market followed by a detailed analysis of recruitment marketing; we will look at the property and auto verticals separately in two upcoming publications. Overall, we believe that the UK classified market is poised for a period of sustained innovation as the print to digital transition matures and incumbents search for new revenue streams induced by slowing digital revenue growth and consumer and client demand coupled with increasingly applicable emerging technologies. Across the three verticals we identify voice, video, virtual and augmented reality, user-generated content; and, critically, Artificial Intelligence as potentially disruptive forces. In terms of macroeconomic drivers, we observe that the Brexit referendum has had a minimal impact thus far but believe that economic uncertainty around the terms of the UK’s departure from the EU will prove a significant dampener on revenue growth in the next two years. In recruitment, the jobs market remains in growth despite the initial shock from the referendum and the recruitment industry continues to grow its revenues, up 2% in 2016 by our estimates. However, recruitment advertising spend itself was down -1% in the first half of this year reflecting the saturation of the online market as the print to digital transition reaches its latter stages; online now accounts for 76% of recruitment spend. The pay per listings model of traditional job boards appears increasingly outdated and in the future we believe that recruitment advertising services’ main value will lie in collecting and organising job seeker data rather than charging for advertising space, a view corroborated by Microsoft’s $22.6bn acquisition of LinkedIn announced in June. Meanwhile, the online jobs aggregator Indeed continues to build its revenue share while print brands’ digital revenues fell in both 2015 and H1 2016.

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    November 18, 2016

    Snappy birthday: Snapchat’s IPO

    ­­­­Snap’s IPO is reportedly pressing ahead as expected, suggesting a remarkably early maturity for the company’s advertising business model. Snapchat creatively adapts the tried and true TV advertising formula, focusing on content, context and audience affinity – this goes against the grain of digital advertising and could unlock new brand budgets for online. After an IPO, Snap’s founders would have the freedom to expand their platform with new content, distribution channels and even devices.