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  • February 9, 2016

    Cyber blues: TalkTalk Group Q3 2015/16 results

    Damage from the cyber-attack was revealed to be a 2% impact to the on-net subscriber growth, a 3% impact to Group revenue growth and a combined EBITDA and exceptionals cost impact of £75-80m, roughly double the previous guidance. An updated FY17 trading strategy promises “more conservative” price increases and greater focus on upselling mobile/fibre/TV to existing customers, while maintaining rather than growing the consumer base. FY17 guidance has been updated to account for cyber-attack related setbacks and trading strategy adjustments, now aiming for modest revenue growth and EBITDA of £320-360m and an implied margin of 17-20%.

  • February 5, 2016

    BT Q3 2015/16 results: Fibre-driven accelerating revenue

    BT Group’s revenue growth accelerated to 4.7% in Q3; while this was helped by some beneficial one-offs, including the TalkTalk cyber-attack, the underlying trends also looked strong across all divisions. Fibre adoption had a record quarter, with growth particularly apparent at BT’s DSL competitors, helping to drive Openreach’s external revenue growth to 7%. BT completed the purchase of EE at the end of January, and BT will keep EE separate for consumer but fully integrate for business. We are sceptical of consumer-side revenue synergies, but the business side and cost synergies will significantly benefit going forward.
  • January 15, 2016

    Will the young of today ever turn to trad TV?

    The steep year-on-year decline in TV viewing among younger age groups has continued in 2015, with reported TV viewing by children 4-15 and adults 16-24 approaching 30% down on the peak of 2010. The downward trends notwithstanding, there are good grounds for believing that some of the new media consumption behaviours will fall away as today’s millennials move-up the lifestage ladder. In addition, half-yearly comparisons reveal a big slow-down in the rate of decline during H2 2015, suggesting that the explosive impact of smartphones, tablets, apps and social networks has almost reached its limits, while further change will occur at a much slower pace.

  • December 17, 2015

    European mobile in Q3 2015 – Consolidation before convergen [...]

    European mobile service revenue growth again improved, albeit marginally, with the quarter’s gain driven by declines easing further in what nevertheless remain the three weakest markets: France, Italy and Spain. Generally stabilising pricing environments were a key factor although ARPUs in these markets remain largely in decline, under continued pressure from strong out-of-bundle revenue declines. In a post-consolidation world, H3G/O2 in the UK and Yoigo in Spain will be the only mobile-only MNOs in the top five European mobile markets, effectively cementing a convergence based future. Consolidation trends might point to the prospect of greater price stabilisation but a fresh land grab for the converged market could derail this. Overall, in spite of healthy underlying data trends, we continue to see medium term growth recovery prospects capped at around 1% given precedent from both the UK, where a healthy economy, healthy pricing environment and strong data trends have failed to exceed this level, and Germany, where post-consolidation revenue growth has reverted to negative territory, both due to competition and consolidation.
  • NBN RSP Outlook –Australia’s next oligopoly
    NBN RSP Outlook –Australia’s next oligopoly
    December 15, 2015

    NBN RSP Outlook –Australia’s next oligopoly

    The NBN was supposed to increase retail competition, but it is driving consolidation of the top 3-4 Retail Service Providers (RSPs). The margins of off-net players (ie M2, the old iiNet) will benefit, but on-net players and/or those over-weight Voice (ie Telstra, TPG) will be negatively impacted. We therefore believe the NBN journey is far from over with the risk that RSPs compete directly with the NBN.

  • December 10, 2015

    UK mobile market Q3 2015: Stuck at 1%

    UK mobile service revenue growth remained at 0.9% in Q3, but on an underlying basis growth increased 0.1ppts to 1.4%. This continues a trend of very gradual improvement in underlying growth over the past year, while reported growth has stayed constant at around 1% due to the re-introduction of regulated MTR cuts on 1 May 2015. Within the market, performances were mixed. O2 remains a service revenue growth star performer thanks to strong sustained contract net adds and stable contract ARPU while Vodafone’s service revenue growth fell back into decline as its contract ARPU suffered due to a sharp fall in out-of-bundle revenue. EE’s contract net adds were strong, but its contract ARPU growth remains weak, partly due to its renewed contract net adds performance being supported by low ARPU data devices and B2B. Since the end of the quarter, on 28 October, the CMA provisionally approved the BT/EE acquisition without conditions, and on 30 October, the EC opened an in-depth investigation into H3G/O2. Both acquirers would be wise in our view to be wary of making any rapid changes to branding and/or channel strategy, given that EE and O2 account for nearly 60% of UK gross subscriber additions between them and disrupting these sales will have a significant impact on subscriber growth, as EE’s experience since dropping Orange and T-Mobile has shown.

  • December 9, 2015

    UKTV – From pay to free?

    UKTV has continued its strong audience performance throughout 2015, and with Dave and Drama the company now has the two largest channels outside the PSBs. Growth has been driven by the effective use of the DTT platform with UKTV positioning its DTT channels to take advantage of the platform’s audience profile and sheer volume of viewing. Assuming UKTV maintains its commissioning spend we expect continued growth on free-to-air, but question marks remain on some of its more niche pay-TV channels.

  • December 8, 2015

    Mobile-first, mobile-foremost Smartphones to be 50% of online con [...]

    Smartphones will deliver half of all time spent online in 2016, and online time on smartphones will grow a further 50% by 2020. They are increasingly replacing the TV’s role as the primary provider of video content. There are stark differences in habits by age: young people’s smartphone use is highly substitutional for other media. Older people, who will account for most of the growth in time online, will add it on top of the time they already spend with other media, particularly TV. The implications of an increasingly mobile-only world are wide-ranging: social discovery and the mobile form factor change what works in content, while in-feed, branded content, payments and subscription are attractive alternatives to display and search advertising on mobile.

  • December 2, 2015

    Millennials: the mobile generation

    Millennials are not the multimedia generation, as is often asserted, but the first entirely digital generation, and this is best reflected in their obsessive use of smartphones. The importance of mobile is not just as a communication device, because the smartphone has become an all-important tool, which this generation relies on for a much wider range of activities than older demographics. The implications for traditional consumer media are that smartphone distribution and discovery are the key strategic issues for the foreseeable future.

  • November 30, 2015

    UK broadband, telephony and pay TV trends Q3 2015

    UK residential communications revenue growth bounced up in Q3 as we had predicted, on the back of continuing solid volume growth and improved ARPU growth driven by a series of price increases impacting in the quarter. The overall revenue growth of 6% was supported by some one-off factors, such as overlapping price increases and the launch of BT Sport Europe, but we believe that growth at this level will be sustained for the next two quarters at least. Looking forward, the impact of TalkTalk’s cyber-attack is uncertain in the detail, but it will clearly slow TalkTalk, benefit some of the others and may temporarily impact market volumes. Another area of competitive uncertainty is the impact of Virgin Media’s network extension as it gathers momentum into 2016, with all of the others likely to lose significant share in Virgin’s expanded areas.

  • November 25, 2015

    Challenges old and new: TalkTalk Group Q2 2015/16 results

    TalkTalk’s results revealed a challenging market environment, with it struggling to maintain its broadband subscriber base given the onslaught from larger and more differentiated competitors. Revenue growth was still a healthy 6%, but this was helped by acquisitions, price adjustments and low margin mobile, with its EBITDA falling despite the drop in broadband customer growth and associated costs. Its cost savings programme and marked price increases are likely to allow it to grow EBITDA this year and next, with the impact of the cyber-attack being significant but short-lived, but its declining retail customer base is a longer term concern.

  • November 13, 2015

    Vodafone Q2 2015/16 results: Growing fixed disguises weakening mo [...]

    Vodafone Europe’s revenue growth trend continued to improve, and the improved operating leverage allowed it to return to EBITDA growth after years of decline. Its mobile business was however more mixed, with improved contract net adds but worsening ARPU and revenue still firmly in decline, with growth from its recently acquired cable businesses partially disguising this. The benefits of its Project Spring investment are not yet clear, and the current wave of in-market mobile consolidation may leave Vodafone a weaker player across much of its footprint.
  • November 12, 2015

    In the League of Champions: Virgin Media Q3 2015 results

    Virgin Media had its strongest quarter for three years in broadband net adds market share – a robust performance in a competitive environment and very much in line with recent strong performances at both Sky and BT. Group revenue growth improved 1ppt, or 3ppts adjusting for distortions, driven by accelerating growth in all operating divisions although higher content and hardware input costs offset the benefit to margins. The Project Lightning network expansion program continues, targeting 250k new premises by the end of 2015, with a discernible impact to subscriber and revenue growth likely to be apparent from the start of 2016.

  • November 9, 2015

    Apple’s iPhone advantage

    Apple’s results underlined its status as the tech industry’s biggest and most profitable company due to the iPhone, accounting for two thirds of the company’s revenue and capturing three quarters of all smartphone profits. While the iPhone dominates the $500+ handset market, the question is how will this segment develop as smartphone penetration approaches maturity in developed markets and mobile operators restructure handset subsidies. The shift to separate airtime and device plans could increase consumer price sensitivity, but leasing plans with annual replacement, supported by the iPhone’s strong second hand value, bring the opportunity of faster replacement cycles, with upside and downside risks matched.

  • November 6, 2015

    YouTube Red: Google’s original bid for premium content

    At launch, Google’s new subscription service YouTube Red competes most directly with premium music streaming services, also offering ad-free videos. YouTube’s augmented revenue model re-boots incentives for native talent to produce content for the platform, and will also widen its appeal for established content producers. Although consumers are likely to find paid subscription for ad-free videos a weak proposition, Red holds much potential for YouTube as it competes for attention across device ecosystems, and presents little risk to its existing advertising model.

  • November 5, 2015

    BT Q2 2015/16 results: Sport distorts, but underlying results str [...]

    The launch of BT Sport Europe pushed up BT’s revenue and pushed down EBITDA in its Q2 results, but underlying revenue growth was strong across all divisions and cost control continued, with the company well on track for its full year guidance. BT Sport itself is being executed well, both in terms of viewers and direct revenue earned, but is not having a discernable impact on broadband figures, nor a game-changing impact on BT’s modest pay TV base, despite its very considerable net cost. On the regulatory side, BT has secured a strong result with the EE merger being provisionally approved without remedies, but debates over the future of Openreach continue, with the related issue of ultrafast roll-out regulation of particular import.

  • FLASH – Telstra Summit 2015 No going back now
    FLASH – Telstra Summit 2015 No going back now
    October 30, 2015

    FLASH – Telstra Summit 2015 No going back now

    We attended the Telstra Digital Summit and came away with the following key takeaways: 1) we finally have a Government that will promote technology as an enabler; 2) can the Internet of Things replace the mobile as our primary computing device? 3) technology companies will disrupt telcos; 4) mobile is driving the disruption in customer experience; and 5) the pace of disruption is accelerating.

  • October 29, 2015

    EE Q3 2015 results: Strong subs, ARPU still weak

    EE reported strong mobile contract net adds in Q3, after a string of weaker performances earlier in the year following the closure of Phones 4U and retirement of the Orange and T-Mobile brands. Contract ARPU growth remained at -3.1%, keeping mobile service revenue in modest decline (-1.4%), a disappointing result in comparison to modest positive growth at its rivals in recent quarters, although improving subscriber numbers should start to bridge this gap. Fixed broadband subscriber growth suffered in a competitive quarter, with EE unable to maintain momentum when faced with the launch of BT Sport Europe and corresponding increased marketing spend from Sky.

  • October 29, 2015

    BT’s away game

    BARB viewing figures provide an encouraging start to BT in its first season showing Champions League and European televised rights; numbers are on a par with those achieved by Sky over the previous few seasons. The investment in rights is not just about achieving good viewing figures - BT’s entry into televised sports is as much about supporting its broadband and pay-TV business in the face of increasing competition from Sky and others. BT has reported results for the September quarter with record-setting TV net adds and steady broadband net adds, confirming that while Sky arguably won the broadband battle, BT won TV, and neither really lost in either category.

  • October 27, 2015

    Sky Q1 2016 results: positive start to the year

    Sky has got off to a good start in 2016, as Q1 group revenues grew by 6% and operating profits by 10% year-on-year, while churn stayed low across all three operations, and product net additions of close to one million pointed to continuing strong underlying growth. The Q1 results have softened concerns about the impact of loss of Champions League live televised rights in the UK and Italy, which have so far shown very little effect in spite of intense competitive pressures from BT and Mediaset. Although Sky UK & Ireland has accounted for the entire year-on-year increase in Q1 operating profits, strong subscriber growth in Germany & Austria over the last two years, and signs that economic conditions in Italy are on the mend, provide a positive outlook for the year ahead.

  • October 23, 2015

    NBN – first million homes passed but a long way to go…

    While we expect the NBN rollout to be delayed by 2-3 years, we forecast NBN revenues to grow at a 65% CAGR to reach A$2.0b by 2020. We believe revenues will be driven by subs growth (56% CAGR) with ARPU remaining flat, as we expect CVC charges to decrease in spite of internet traffic growth of 24% CAGR through to 2020. This report provides a deep dive into our NBN forecasts and assesses the key trends and drivers that are emerging as the NBN rollout gathers momentum.

  • October 14, 2015

    European mobile in Q2 2015

    European mobile service revenue growth improved to the highest in over four years driven by improvements in the three slowest growing markets of late. Out-of-bundle revenues are still declining at a rate of over 10% but data revenue growth trends point to underlying strengths in the revenue profile. Looking at the longer term picture begs the question as to whether the quarter’s improvement can be repeated over the next 18 months, transforming the industry into one with extremely healthy revenue growth of 5%-10%; on balance we are not very optimistic. Two major in-mobile transactions are yet to be approved by the EC, namely H3G/O2 in the UK and an H3G/Wind JV in Italy. The recent precedent from Denmark is somewhat discouraging, although the Danish consolidation was unusual in some respects. Nonetheless comments from the new competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager suggest that regulatory caution towards 4-to-3 mergers is still high. Progress towards convergence is continuing with few operators in a post-consolidation world being either 100% fixed or 100% mobile. Convergence has to date been discount-led and damaging to market revenues, but post-consolidation, operator rhetoric has been reassuringly more focused on intentions for increased investment in both LTE mobile networks and high speed fixed networks.

  • Telco Market Outlook – NBN putting the squeeze on Fixed Voice
    Telco Market Outlook – NBN putting the squeeze on Fixed Voice
    September 24, 2015

    Telco Market Outlook – NBN putting the squeeze on Fixed Voice

    While we don’t expect the overall size of the Telco market to change materially, we do expect product share to change over the next five years. We expect Fixed Voice to decline to 7% of the overall market from 15% currently driven by challengers offering VOIP style plans to take share from Telstra. We are in the midst of a material change in how Telco products are delivered and consumed, this report assesses these changes and provides our market outlook.

  • September 16, 2015

    Apple battles for control

    New ‘s’ versions of the iPhone 6 and 6Plus will help to maintain Apple’s grip on the high-end smartphone market. A notebook-sized iPad Pro and revamped Apple TV round out this year’s iOS device upgrade. iPhone sales may be further boosted by a new leasing plan, initially US-only, allowing users to upgrade handsets each year more easily, which also should enable the company to take a share of the used iPhone market, and could even be a precursor to an Apple MVNO. While the new iPad and Apple TV are unlikely to have a material impact on profits in the near term, they should be seen in the context of the wider battle for control of the connected office and home.