Non-UK Media

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  • August 20, 2018

    Sky UK 2017/18 full year results: Winning the game of content

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    Sky maintained strong revenue growth of 5% in 2017/18, with EBITDA and operating profit both bouncing back into strong positive territory after the UK Premier League rights hit of 2016/17. The UK grew revenue well and profits better; Italy performed well and should improve much further given the retreat of its principal competitor; Germany is more challenged, but extra content investment may aid sustained growth. Sky is proving adept at managing content costs and revenue in a changing environment, with investment, cost control and monetisation all being put to effective use as the content type demands it.  
  • June 19, 2018

    Advertising after the turning point: When offline is the exceptio [...]

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    Online advertising became the majority of all UK ad spend last year, in step with China but ahead of all other major markets. Direct response has further increased its share to 54% of UK ad spend, fuelled by the self-serve platforms of Google, Facebook and Amazon, while content media nets just 11% of the online advertising pot. We estimate that all online-delivered channels - including "pure play" online properties, broadcaster VOD, digital out-of-home and online radio - could account for well over 60% of UK ad spend by 2020, but only with improved commitment to industry governance.
  • 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French broadcasting industry in a generation; one that is likely to accelerate Canal+’s decline, force a review of the outdated regulatory framework, and possibly spur an M&A spree.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 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.          
  • 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.
  • February 9, 2018

    Tencent: gaming giant heads west

    Tencent, by some counts the world’s most valuable media and entertainment company but still relatively unknown outside Asia, is riding games growth to global clout. The company offers a blueprint for successfully integrating media and entertainment companies, saving on overheads while retaining key talent and organisational culture . Tencent’s recent investments in Snap and Spotify suggest media platform ambitions beyond games in the West, but close ties to the Chinese  government could complicate regulatory approval for strategic acquisitions.
  • February 5, 2018

    CMA issues provisional findings in Fox-Sky

    The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has provisionally found that Fox’s acquisition of Sky is against the public interest on media plurality grounds, although it could proceed with an appropriate remedy. The CMA found the merger would give the Murdoch Family Trust (MFT) and family members “too much influence over public opinion and the political agenda”. The CMA now enters the challenging remedies phase. Fox could offer an Editorial Board for Sky News pending finalisation of Disney-Fox (by 2019). Third parties seem likely to continue to seek to prohibit the merger
  • February 5, 2018

    Chinese online media platforms

    Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent (BAT) have built their leading market positions in Chinese online media on the back of the mobile revolution and an absence of foreign rivals. The big three’s rivalry in online advertising reflects a broader struggle over key gatekeeper roles in the Chinese online economy, albeit one shaped by state intervention. While benefiting from protectionism at home, BAT are weak in most foreign markets and links to the Chinese state may hamper international expansion, particularly in the US
  • January 16, 2018

    Stitch Fix IPO: profits are back in style

    Subscription fashion retailer Stitch Fix has gone public, revealing a rare example of a new, private, technology-based company capable of making a profit. Stitch Fix relies on the ‘mixed intelligence’ of algorithms and human stylists to offer its customers a curated fashion “Fix” of clothing and accessories, aiming to cut through some of the chaos of ecommerce. Though Stitch Fix’s success is not guaranteed, there is much to be learned from its approach of focusing on building a solid business and generating positive earnings early, rather than growing users at any cost
  • December 21, 2017

    Auto classified marketplace: Auto Trader steered into stronger p [...]

    Print advertising in the autos classifieds marketplace keeps declining, but significant continued online growth steadies the helm. Five years on from new car financing innovations, and exasperated by changes in consumer behaviour towards greener tech, the used car market is braced for a flood. Auto Trader’s competitors force it to keep innovating, although having saturated the market, its dominance gives it enough headroom to worry about the weather breaking.    
  • December 21, 2017

    Recruitment classified marketplace: Tech giants eye up LinkedIn [...]

    A strong UK labour market, with record low unemployment but historically high vacancies, has supported growth in the recruitment industry, though trends may be peaking as we reach unknown territory. These trends play out in the recruitment market before they become apparent in the labour market.Despite the fragmentation of the online recruitment listings marketplace, Indeed is well-placed to dominate this space due to its increased scale and aggressive investment strategy. Both Google and Facebook have announced their intention to move into the recruitment listings sphere, which may have consequences not only for classified expenditure but further up the value chain with the agency model. However, both giants have attempted to move into online classifieds before, with little demonstrable success.
  • November 17, 2017

    Altice in crisis as formulaic model flounders in France

    The telecoms group has suffered a dramatic stock market correction following its Q3 results, as investors woke up to the continuous decline of its main unit, France’s SFR – leading its CEO to resign. Closure of a tax loophole will further erode SFR’s revenues by up to 4% in 2018. Despite being France’s largest fibre network, SFR’s broadband market share dropped 4ppts over three years. Notwithstanding grandstands on ‘convergence’ and expensive rights acquisitions, it is losing pay-TV subscribers – it looks unlikely to challenge Vivendi’s Canal+ in next year’s Ligue 1 auction. The mobile performance is notably better with the subscriber count stabilised and ARPU rising. Besides sustaining network deployments, to turn around SFR Altice needs to abandon short term fixes, invest in its workforce and customer service, and differentiate through valuable innovation – in other words the opposite of the model followed so far
  • TV platform forecasts to 2026: DTT and pay-lite set to grow
    TV platform forecasts to 2026: DTT and pay-lite set to grow
    July 26, 2017

    European subscription and pay-TV monitor

    Across Europe, markets are becoming more competitive. Incumbent pay-TV paltforms (e.g. Sky or Canal+) face increasing threats from both internet-based services (e.g. Netflix and Amazon), and telecoms operators.Telecoms providers are proving the most potent challengers as they enter the premium football rights market to create attractive triple and quad play bundles – examples include BT, SFR and Telefónica. The latter is now the main pay-TV operator in Spain whereas France’s Canal+ has entered into a strategic alliance with Orange. Across the top five markets (UK, France, Germany, Spain, and Italy), Sky remains the leading operator with an estimated 21.5m video subscribers, twice as many as Netflix
  • July 26, 2017

    Netflix passes 100 million: buy more steak, get less sizzle?

    After a quarter coloured by big, returning series Netflix now has just shy of 104 million subscribers worldwide, with, for the first time, the majority living outside the US. Content expenditure continues to dazzle with $4.2 billion spent in the first half of 2017. Negative free cash flow looks set to hit $2.5 billion for the year, with large upfront payments for self-produced and commissioned content coupling with rights acquisition expenditure to create a library of programmes that necessitates continual subscriber growth. Current international growth is small considering the magnitude of the opportunity, revealing the difficulty of creating sizeable customer bases outside of the West, where competitors are cheaper, US programming less desirable and internet access comparatively limited
  • European scripted content - Rising demand and consolidation
    European scripted content - Rising demand and consolidation
    July 11, 2017

    European scripted content

    The US scripted content boom is spilling over into Europe: Free-to-air TV drama ratings have proven resilient but as costs and audience expectations have risen budgets are under pressure, necessitating flexible co-financing arrangements with American broadcasters, and Netflix and Amazon. Pay channels have boosted output—with uneven results. Long-term IP control is a key factor behind independent production consolidation, led by broadcasters seeking a secure stream of content and diversification away from advertising. Notable developments include the new wave of Berlin-based, internationally-financed series, the rise of domestic French content and Sky Italia’s edgy originals, Telefónica’s giant leap into Spanish dramas, and the continuation of Britain as an export powerhouse.

  • December 6, 2016

    European digital news models

    Pay access now predominates in print-rooted national digital news across Europe, with meters the most popular model. Reliance on digital advertising is retreating. Best of class Continental publishers have roughly stabilised revenue, and the risk of print ad decline acceleration looms – as in the UK. Digital is still typically below 20% of revenue as online advertising CPMs decrease and newsstand buyers are reluctant to migrate to digital subscriptions – on current trends digital revenues will be insufficient to sustain a full-scale newsroom. Emerging innovations include aggregation, bundling (with broadcast, music, telecoms), and youth-skewed spin offs, but execution is uneven. Profitable native digital news sites provide templates for focused coverage at a fraction of traditional newspapers’ costs.
  • 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.

  • August 31, 2016

    The matter of Peak TV, and what it means for the UK

    Whether the US has reached “Peak TV” —the apogeic volume of original scripted series—is debatable, but the mass of content being produced is unparalleled. As television continues its transition from a disposable medium to a permanent one, and an increasing number of outlets are creating original, scripted programming to keep up or differentiate, does this American explosion have ramifications for the UK consumer or broadcaster? Simply put, the UK’s more concentrated television landscape limits exposure. And, counter-intuitively, an unsustainable focus on scripted drama could play into the hands of the traditional broadcasters, whose future strength may lie in the diversity of their offering.

  • August 12, 2016

    US and UK: Cord-cutting-shaving-nevering

    Cord-cutting has become a major headache for US pay-TV operators in the last three years, while cable network channels face further erosion due to cord-shaving and we now see a rapidly growing population of cord-nevering households that have never taken a pay-TV subscription. Should we expect it to be only a matter of time for the UK to follow the US? The short answer is no, due to major differences in the pay-TV market infrastructures of the two countries, which leave the UK much less exposed. However, downward pressures from the online space do exist in both countries, while the big cord-cutting-shaving-nevering threat we now see in the UK has most of all to do with the chill Brexit winds on the economy.

  • June 14, 2016

    Sky plays long term with Bundesliga

    The award of the match packages in the 2017-21 domestic football rights auction in Germany is probably optimal for Sky (within the “no single buyer” constraint): it will broadcast about eight out of nine weekly fixtures including the top picks, while Eurosport’s package is complementary to Sky’s rather than substitutional. Sky will, however, pay a hefty price, with the new contract costing 80% more than the current one – although the new Bundesliga rights value is not out of line with other Continental leagues. We expect Sky’s German operations to briefly break even in fiscal 2017 before falling back into losses with a return to profit if other costs are kept under control. Management has made a bold statement of self-confidence: building scale is the priority.
  • May 16, 2016

    Facebook leans in to video

    Facebook has become the second largest online video platform after YouTube by viewing time, largely thanks to muted autoplay streams - for the moment. This is about to change as Facebook seeks to grow viewing and expand inventory with a new standalone video hub, live streams and revenue share models for professional content. Facebook’s lofty ambitions to become a destination for long-form, premium video content will be harder to achieve and less compatible with current strengths than for online news.
  • May 3, 2016

    Content marketing online in Europe to 2020

    Paid placements for content marketing online in Europe will increase by 186% from 2014-2020, to over €2 billion. It is a particularly exciting area for premium publishers, who can leverage their content expertise to reverse the flight of ad money to lower-cost properties. Almost all are developing creative content offerings to capture this value. Metrics and measurement, disclosure and cost remain as challenges for content marketing online, but growth is strong due to high commitment to spend from advertisers.
  • April 22, 2016

    Brexit risks for the creative industries

    A post-Brexit recession will cause a hyper-cyclical decline in the advertising revenues of broadcasters and publishers. The Vote Leave idea of the UK joining a free trade area for goods with the EU would sever UK access to the Single Market for services, damaging the export-reliant audiovisual group, among many other sectors of strength. Made-in-the-UK IT, software and computer consultancy services will lose eligibility for government procurement tenders once the UK is an outsider to the EU.