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  • 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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  • January 11, 2019

    Scandinavian video

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    The Scandinavian markets sit at the cutting edge of the TV industry’s evolution—a product of tech-savvy citizens, superb connectivity, and generally high incomes. Take-up of SVOD is high, yet while this has had a pronounced effect on viewing, pay-TV subscription numbers have proved surprisingly resilient. Traditionally dominant public service broadcasters are under greater financial and political pressures, with the licence fee scrapped in both Denmark and Sweden.      
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  • European mobile in Q4 2016
    European mobile in Q4 2016
    January 10, 2019

    UK broadband, telephony and pay TV trends Q3 2018

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    Broadband market volume growth resumed its downward trend in the September quarter after a blip in the previous quarter that was likely caused by a wholesale transfer distorting the figures. Revenue growth, however, perked up to 1.9% from 1.7% in the previous quarter, an encouraging recovery especially given that it was not primarily driven by the timing of a price increase. ARPU growth improved across all four of the major operators, countering recent trends, with a focus on higher value offerings a common theme. High speed broadband adoption accelerated in the quarter across most operators, encouraged by Openreach’s volume discount offer, although this was partially driven by keener high speed pricing. Revenue growth at Virgin Media, Sky and TalkTalk converged at around 3%, with BT Consumer lagging at -1%. However, excluding the effect of BT’s shrinking telephony-only base and smoothing the sporadic boost of its 9-monthly price rise, BT Consumer’s revenue is in the middle of the pack at 3.0%      
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  • December 20, 2018

    UK Auto classified marketplace

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    New car registrations will be down 6.3% (2.4m) in 2018, another year of decline from the 2016 peak of 2.7m, impacted by the soft consumer confidence in big-ticket purchases, with some spin down to used car sales. Auto Trader, despite the car industry’s downturn, has experienced only marginal pain thanks to the strategic focus on revenue diversification – principally into new cars, dealer auctions and enhanced subscription-based services for dealers. Our forecasts for media expenditure on cars in 2018 and 2019 are essentially flat. Auto Trader’s positioning offers insulation in a downturn, and we expect they will gain share in marketing spend, though not necessarily in terms of total consumer or industry expenditure.  
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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 19, 2018

    UK Recruitment classified marketplace

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    The UK’s labour market is tight, with an unemployment rate of 4.1%, the lowest since 1973. Peak vacancies and reports of skill shortages mask dull hiring plans amidst the gathering Brexit gloom, which will hit temporary hiring hard. We expect media expenditure to fall in 2018, substantially more among print publishers, spilling over into 2019 expenditure on media. The recruitment industry has benefited from the structural shift to outsourcing, and large agencies are portals in their own right, providing tools to companies to sift applicants to find the best match. Companies doing their own recruitment of professionals value listing on LinkedIn, the top UK site by visitors, and the efficiency of paying per applicant rather than for the listing. Second-placed Indeed has gained considerable momentum since being acquired by Japan’s Recruit Holdings in 2012. Indeed acquired third-placed Glassdoor in 2018, the latter having built its market position through user-generated reviews of employers. With Google serious again about Jobs, a sector (among others) it has tried to disrupt before, Monster and Jobsite are the more vulnerable to being crowded out.
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  • December 18, 2018

    UK Vertical marketplaces overview and property classified outlook

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    The UK consumer’s loss of confidence since the June 2016 referendum vote in favour of Brexit has reduced the revenues of both estate agents and auto dealers, with knock-on effects on their media spend, entrenching further the leadership positions of Rightmove and Auto Trader respectively. Only the UK’s recruitment marketplace is buoyant with a record level of vacancies, benefiting general recruitment aggregator Indeed, although deepening Brexit gloom among businesses will rapidly melt away vacancies. With internet users flocking to portals and away from print media, advertisers have followed suit with media spend on these portals to stimulate purchaser interest, although transactions are still conducted offline. Facebook and Google, which have long histories of contesting markets for local advertisers with little success, have re-entered classifieds. Facebook Marketplace is now accepting listings from estate agents and dealers, expanding from C2C to B2C in homes and cars. Google Jobs launched in the UK in July 2018 and enjoys partnerships with all the major portals other than Indeed. The sharp decline in sales and shift to lettings, sluggish price growth and pressure on estate agents’ commissions, are making marketing key to driving transactional activity in a longer sales funnel. Rightmove’s revenues are on track for a 10% increase in 2018 on the uplift in average revenue per agent (ARPA). Zoopla's market share rose with the end of OnTheMarket's 'one-other-portal' rule for shareholders upon its AIM listing in February 2018.
  • December 17, 2018

    Australia Out-of-Home Market Outlook

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    As traditional media segments face the onslaught of digital, OOH advertising stands out as the only old media medium that is seeing sustained growth. Traditionally OOH was mostly a real estate play but with digitalisation, it’s now becoming a true digital medium that synergises with other digital media i.e. acquisitions by OOH of Junkee and increasingly personalisation not just on a small scale but on a large scale. The overall OOH market has grown at a 13.8% CAGR from FY14 to FY17. We forecast it grow at a 5.4% from FY17 to FY22. With more than A$1.75bn of M&A activity in the middle of CY2018, the Australian OOH market has gone from being dominated by four major players to being ruled by a just two major players, effectively giving rise to a ‘Duopoly’.  
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  • December 14, 2018

    UK mobile market Q3 2018

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    UK mobile market service revenue grew by 2.4% in Q3, a level not seen since early 2011. However, this 0.6ppt improvement on the growth rate in Q2 was very disappointing in the context of an expected 2-3ppt revenue growth bolster from the annualisation of roaming tariff cuts. EE and O2 shared the top spot for growth, more than double the growth rate of H3G and far ahead of Vodafone which remains in negative territory and had only the slightest uptick this quarter. O2 is likely to be hit by its well-publicised network blackout in December, but experience from a similar problem back in 2012 suggests this will be modest and temporary, and it is otherwise performing well.
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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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  • December 11, 2018

    Hulu casts a spell

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    When its acquisition of 21st Century Fox closes, Disney will own 60% of Hulu. If it bought Comcast’s 30% stake (and WarnerMedia’s 10%), it could fully leverage the platform for its US direct-to-consumer strategy. Comcast’s Hulu stake has little strategic value to it. We argue it should sell to Disney in exchange for long-term supply deals for ESPN, as well as for the upcoming Disney+ and Hulu, similar to its recent pacts with Amazon Prime and Netflix. This could naturally be extended to Sky in Europe depending on whether Disney decides to launch all direct-to-consumer or sticks with pay-TV in certain markets.
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  • December 7, 2018

    Virgin Media UK Q3 2018 results: Cautiously accelerating growth

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    Virgin Media’s revenue growth accelerated in Q3, off the back of improved subscriber ARPU and triple play growth, but actual customer and broadband figures slowed in line with the weakening market. Network roll-out was still (deliberately) slow, with the rate now well below the previous year, and the company indicating that it is not expecting to accelerate, although it is still the fastest new network builder in the UK by some margin. Both the ARPU focus and slow roll-out point to a cautious approach, with the company happier to ensure its existing customers offer good yields than to seek significant market share growth at this stage, which is probably wise.
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  • December 6, 2018

    Refocus imperative at Vodafone UK

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    Vodafone’s deteriorating financial performance is as much due to an increasing margin of underperformance relative to its peers as to challenging markets such as Italy. A strategic refocus on operational performance is long overdue and seems largely sensible, save for the continued push for discount-led convergence products which are driving underperformance. Although Vodafone posted 3% organic EBITDA growth for H1 of this year and is guiding to same for the full year, we view this definition as overly flattering with true EBITDA performance flat and revenues in decline.        
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  • December 5, 2018

    Classifieds Marketing Outlook: All Segments

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    For decades, classifieds were the domain of newspapers, which offered advertisers cheap ads sorted under specific categories. The ads gave shoppers an easy way to browse various local offers, usually from private sellers. But, the jump from print to digital was inevitable and has proven itself to be quite lucrative for digital players. However, in the past few years, as the online classifieds market matures, leading digital classifieds players are attempting to diversify their revenues into new products and services. This is being driven by the need to ensure new sources of revenue growth and to drive customer acquisition and loyalty. In the real estate market, REA and Domain have introduced adjacent services such as mortgage broking and data analytics. In the recruitment market, LinkedIn and SEEK have been investing in technology companies involved in temporary hire, skill development, alternative recruitment and employee engagement.
  • December 4, 2018

    SVOD in the US and UK: A tale of three-player markets

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    There is a belief in some quarters that there is space for a myriad of large SVOD services in the UK. Like the UK, the US market is dominated by three services, but there is also evidence that there is appetite for further offerings: Netflix households tend to take a secondary SVOD service to complement Netflix’s content library, and are likely to take up a third service, and in some cases a fourth and fifth. Potential domestic UK services will struggle to compete with the resources that foreign tech giants can marshal, along with NOW TV’s steady position and top content.  
  • December 3, 2018

    O2 UK: scope for outperformance near-term, solid results thereaft [...]

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    O2 has managed to deliver a solid financial performance over the past several quarters in spite of network constraints which are now resolved. With signs that they are becoming more assertive in the market, and with continued brand strength and low churn, there is scope for that performance to hasten from here. Over the medium to long term, turnaround plans from the other MNOs could thwart outperformance by O2 but with an holistic culture of leading-edge marketing and innovation, we expect at least sustained solid results.
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  • November 30, 2018

    UK HFSS TV watershed idea should be put to bed

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    The ban on pre-9pm TV ads for HFSS (high in fat, salt or sugar) products being considered by the Government would not play a constructive or quantifiable role in reversing the UK’s rising childhood obesity rates. The ban on HFSS product ads since 2008 around children’s programming has not impeded the inexorable rise of childhood obesity. In 2010, Ofcom termed an HFSS watershed ban ‘disproportionate’ and ‘ineffective’. In 2018, a watershed ban would be even less effective. Children’s linear broadcast TV viewing is down by half since 2010, mainly to YouTube’s advantage, which benefits from light-touch HFSS regulation.
  • November 29, 2018

    Automotive Marketing Outlook 2018

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    After hitting record highs in March 2018, new car sales have recorded their seventh straight month of declining sales numbers as declining property prices and higher fuel costs are driving households to curb big-ticket purchases. Vehicle sales for October 2018 were 90,178 vehicles, down 5.3% YoY. Passenger cars declined 23.6% YoY driven in part by the preference for Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) which accounted for 44% of all new car sales in Australia for October 2018. While disruptors such as carsharing platforms (carnextdoor and goget) are reducing the need for car-ownership, there hasn’t been any visible impact on the automotive advertising market. We forecast Automotive Display Adex to grow at a 13.2% CAGR through to 2022 to A$891.2mn. Carsales is one of the largest players in the Australian online auto advertising market with a share of 37% in car listing volumes. Its average session duration is approximately two times that of its closest competitor, while the average number of daily unique visitors to its website is 57% higher.
  • November 20, 2018

    BT Q2 2018/19 results: Beating expectations, guidance still look [...]

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    BT’s Q2 results were well ahead of both its full year guidance run-rate and financial market expectations, with revenue flat and EBITDA up 3% versus guidance and consensus at -2% for both metrics. Operating metrics were more mixed, with broadband churn high and (our estimate of) net adds low, but fixed ARPU was solid, backed up by rapid adoption of BT Plus, fibre adoption re-accelerated and mobile was strong across all metrics. While part of the outperformance was likely due to H1/H2 phasing, it also reflects fairly conservative expectations and a solid operating performance, and hence full year guidance still looks very beatable, with a positive outlook beyond this.
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  • November 16, 2018

    UK PSB SVOD

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    The Public Service Broadcasters (PSBs) have been mulling a possible SVOD service, a decade after their ad-supported Project Kangaroo was blocked on competition grounds. Even if a reboot between the BBC and ITV were this time to be approved, we do not think Kangaroo 2 can succeed as a significant SVOD entrant in its home turf of the UK, above all because it’s too late. Other flaws in the offer are that it would be too small, non-premium, too old (archive), and too old (viewing profile), plus lacking sufficient financial resource to produce a pipeline of unique series.
  • November 15, 2018

    UBS Conference: What could the media landscape look like in 5 yea [...]

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    Venture Insights attended the annual UBS Investors Conference for 2018 on 12th and 13th November, with a number of interesting panels across the two days. The participants of the Media panel were unanimous in their view that while digital remains an important area of growth, traditional media operators are starting to get their act together and are aligning their offerings more closely with customer preferences.
  • November 13, 2018

    BBC drama: a loosening grip

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    A string of big, bold hits like Bodyguard, Killing Eve and Little Drummer Girl has reinvigorated the perception of the BBC’s drama schedule, with massive ratings and a coveted place in the public conversation. However, the lack of the broadcaster’s top dramas actually produced by BBC Studios—declining to just 4 of the top 25 in 2018—is cause for ongoing concern. At a time when the BBC is attempting to bulk up the iPlayer and programme IP has become the bedrock broadcasting asset, the BBC could be better placed.
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