TV

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  • September 4, 2019

    Under pressure, how UK TV is changing on the screen

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    Analysis of peak time TV programming on the main five PSB channels from 2002 to today shows a decline in the number of UK dramas broadcast—predominantly due to a contraction by ITV—though this has steadied since 2010. The resolve of the PSBs to maintain the number of dramas broadcast, despite rising costs, will mean an inevitable increase in the number of repeats and cheaper programming. A number of other observations are eye-catching: a greater turnover of drama series, entertainment formats failing at a higher rate and celebrity being treated as a panacea
  • August 16, 2019

    Sky UK Q2 2019 results: strong subscriber growth and long-term in [...]

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    Sky’s Q2 results were encouraging overall, with significant subscriber growth swinging direct-to-consumer revenue growth back to positive. ARPU declined once more, since new streaming customers are taking lower-priced products, but total revenue growth accelerated to 2.4%. EBITDA rose 20%, primarily due to the dropping out of some large one-off costs. Next quarter, Sky will begin making savings on the new Premier League rights contract, and increased football rights costs in Italy and Germany will have annualised out. Having launched Sky Studios in June, Sky is focused on producing original European content, with ambitions to double spend over the next five years, in a calibrated response to the Netflix-led race for content.
  • July 23, 2019

    How could the BBC ever fund the over-75s?

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    In the BBC’s 2015 funding settlement commencing 2017, the Government assumed the BBC would fully fund the subsidy for over-75s to the tune of £750 million from 2020/21. Although the BBC’s settlement contained measures of “mitigation” worth c.£290 million, the BBC would still have faced a gap of c.£460 million to be funded by programme cuts and efficiencies (the BBC has pledged £250 million). Including c.£300 million from the annual adjustment of the licence fee for inflation from 2017 would help. However, this was always required to offset normal salary and cost increases to prevent a real decline in the BBC’s resources.
  • July 16, 2019

    Future of UK Public Service Media: EPG prominence to the fore

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    Ofcom’s recommendations to Government suggest updating EPG prominence legislation to cover connected TVs, and were warmly welcomed by the PSBs. Balancing various commercial, PSB and consumer interests will be key; determining what content qualifies for prominence will be a particularly thorny issue to resolve. Extending prominence to smart TVs and streaming sticks is critical, but implementation will be challenging
  • July 8, 2019

    Roku: OTT pioneer under threat

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    With c.22m accounts across 44m devices, Roku has a US footprint that exceeds the largest pay-TV platforms. Limited competitive advantages highlights the scale of this achievement, but also leave the pioneering firm vulnerable to activities from bigger, wealthier rivals Apple, Amazon, and Google as well as pay-TV providers. The odds are stacked against Roku, but continuing the innovation in production and product that built its lead may secure future success
  • June 27, 2019

    2019 UK TV advertising backstopped by Brexit

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    We expect total TV ad revenues to decline 3.3% in H1 2019, partly due to a return to Earth following the idyllic conditions of the World Cup in June 2018. Bad omens for advertising for H2 include the sagging economy since April and the Government’s impetus to achieve Brexit on 31 October, with or without a deal. Our forecast remains a 3% decline for total TV ad revenues for 2019 as a whole, with the risk of a more serious downturn in 2020 in the wake of Brexit.
  • June 14, 2019

    UK Channel 4’s balancing act: 2018 annual report

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    Mindful of the uncertain future effects of ongoing events, most notably the stagnating TV ad market and the costs of establishing an HQ in Leeds, Channel 4 returned a £5 million pre-tax surplus in 2018, which after investment in Box left its cash reserves at £180 million. Increased digital revenue more than made up for the anticipated drop in spot advertising and sponsorship (with group viewing share and SOCI down) while cautiousness necessitated lower content spend (down 5% from the peak in 2016); a concern given rising content costs. Nevertheless, Channel 4 is doing a good job delivering its remit in a tough environment, continuing to broadcast programming no-one else would and leveraging long-standing relationships to nurture television and film of a quality and ingenuity that belies the modest size of the organisation
  • June 12, 2019

    Monetising user-generated video

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    ­­­­Video sharing platforms, like YouTube, Facebook Watch and Twitch, are vying to attract creators with monetisation options such as branded content and user payments. Advertising income, already limited for many small and medium-sized creators, has been undermined by YouTube’s response to brand safety concerns. The new tools come with their own obstacles, but are necessary to keep platforms attractive to video creators.
  • June 5, 2019

    UK HFSS advertising ban consultation

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    The UK government is now consulting on a wider TV advertising ban until 9pm for food and drink high in fat, salt and sugar (HFSS), to combat childhood obesity. TV and TV advertising are not the cause of children being overweight or obese (O+O). Policy change in this area should inform and educate parents and young children, as they have in Leeds and Amsterdam. With 64% of the UK population being O+O, obesity is a complex societal issue requiring a multifaceted approach. The evidence from existing rules, and plummeting TV viewing amongst children, says that further restrictions on TV advertising will be ineffective in curbing the rise of obesity in the UK.
  • May 20, 2019

    Disney gets the final piece of Hulu

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    Disney announced that it would acquire Comcast’s 33% share of Hulu in a put/call agreement that can be enacted by either party from January 2024, while taking full operational control of the vehicle immediately. Under the agreement Disney will pay Comcast a minimum of $9 billion for its current stake, provided Comcast fulfils agreed capital calls, which going forward would be just over $500 million/year. Disney secured the continued licensing of NBCUniversal content for Hulu, contributing about 30% of Hulu’s library, but Comcast can loosen obligations to Hulu for the launch of its own SVOD service in 2020.
  • May 13, 2019

    Sky UK Q1 2019 results: weak ARPU hits bottom line

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    Sky made a surprisingly weak start to 2019, with revenue growth decelerating to 1.9% (the first time below 4% since the European businesses merged in 2015), due to weaker ARPU trends. However, Sky expects improvement to follow, blaming one-off factors in the quarter. The ARPU weakness drove EBITDA down 11.3%, but this should bounce back across the rest of 2019 as football rights costs turn from a drag to a positive. Comcast highlighted collaborations with Sky across tech, advertising, content distribution and even news, stating it is on track to achieve the anticipated $500 million in annual synergies over the next couple of years
  • May 2, 2019

    The new lifespan of UK TV content: wearing out more quickly

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    The economic model of TV production relies upon a vibrant market for back catalogue content; programming that has traditionally driven the desirability of many linear channels and slots. New release strategies, along with the hyper-concentrated viewing encouraged by video-on-demand and the round-the-clock availability of shows calls the longevity of the value of content into question. Our analysis suggests that programmes that previously would be leisurely distributed through broadcast could now feasibly be “worn out” more quickly. This could have ramifications for the whole sector, with more content investment required “upfront” and new financial and distribution models required.
  • April 5, 2019

    Apple’s showtime: everybody gets a service, partners get pennie [...]

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    ­­­­Apple is strengthening its household model by doubling down on family-friendly content subscriptions and payments. The model is reliant on hard bargains with mainly US partners, which risks sacrificing potential scale for a short-term boost in margin dollars. The new services offer glimpses of novel concepts, but stop short of taking risks to truly differentiate—a problem in TV, where Apple’s distribution advantage is slimmer than Oprah would have it.
  • April 4, 2019

    BBC Studios and Discovery in the UK: a new SVOD and the UKTV spli [...]

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    The split of UKTV has been announced with the lifestyle channels going to Discovery, while the balance, along with the UKTV brand and VOD service, retained by the BBC, costing BBC Studios £173 million. In the same release, a new, global Discovery SVOD “powered” by BBC natural history and factual programming was announced, backed by a ten-year content partnership. The deal is a positive step for the BBC, which safeguards against flaky brand attribution internationally and the potential loss of revenues from Netflix, which is becoming more choosy when acquiring content.
  • March 22, 2019

    BritBox’s muted arrival in the UK: ITV FY 2018 results

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    After the heights that Love Island and the World Cup took ITV to in H1, the broadcaster held on over the tougher last few months of 2018 to see growth in ad revenue (0.8%) and total viewing (linear and VOD, 3%). However, it was the announcement of the subscription video service BritBox—with the discussions around the “strategic partnership” with the BBC in its concluding phase—that garnered most interest. ITV’s investment in the service is modest when compared to its global competitors—up to £25 million in 2019, £40 million in 2020 and declining thereafter—but it is a prudent low-risk entry into what is an expanding but difficult market.
  • March 12, 2019

    The future of UK video viewing: forecasts to 2028

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    Linear TV is still a mass market medium, watched by 90% of the UK population each week. However, our latest viewing forecasts predict broadcasters will account for two-thirds of all video viewing in 2028, down from c. 80% today, due to the relentless rise of online video services. Total viewing will continue to increase as more short-form content is squeezed into people’s days, particularly on portable devices, but the key battleground for eyeballs will remain the TV screen. The online shift has already had a huge impact among younger age groups, with only 55% of under-35s’ current viewing to broadcasters. Older audiences are slowly starting to follow suit, but have a long way to go.
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  • February 22, 2019

    Time to create an addressable UK TV market

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    Addressable linear TV advertising, where precision-targeted ads overlay default linear ads, could enhance the TV proposition for advertisers, agencies and viewers, benefiting all broadcasters. In the context of dwindling linear viewing and rocketing online video ad spends, the adoption of Sky AdSmart and similar services on YouView and Freeview could take addressable TV ads from a sideshow to a pillar of revenue. Addressable linear is a bigger and more strategic prize for broadcasters than BVOD ads. Sky holds the key to wider adoption of its AdSmart platform if it can find a way – or a price – to bring ITV Sales and/or 4 Sales on board.
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  • February 15, 2019

    European pay-TV: Resilient in the face of SVOD’s growth

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    Across the EU4, pay-TV is proving resilient in the face of fast growing Netflix (with Amazon trailing), confirming the catalysts of cord-cutting in the US are not present on this side of the Atlantic. Domestic SVOD has little traction so far. France's pay-TV market seems likely to see consolidation. Meanwhile, Germany's OTT sector is ebullient, with incumbents bringing an array of new or enhanced offers to market. Italy has been left with a sole major pay-TV platform—Sky—following Mediaset's withdrawal, while Spain's providers, by and large, are enjoying continued growth in subscriptions driven by converged bundles and discounts.
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  • February 11, 2019

    UK TV set viewing trends: linear audiences tumble in 2018

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    2018 was another bad year for traditional TV set viewing of broadcast channels, with a 5% decline year-on-year—its steepest since 2011. The decline accelerated among most demographics, but particularly for 16-34s, down 13% YOY from their already relatively low levels of TV viewing. Unmatched use, which includes viewing to Netflix, Amazon and YouTube, continues to grow, up 16% YOY, with both linear viewing and unmatched use becoming increasingly solitary activities. While heavier linear TV viewers are accounting for a greater proportion of linear TV viewing, it is the lighter TV viewers that are accounting for a greater proportion of unmatched use. Within the broadcast ecosystem, ITV had the strongest 2018 thanks to the FIFA World Cup, more Coronation Street, and Love Island. Most other broadcasters struggled in terms of viewing share, but the maturity of the market means major shifts continue to be rare.
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  • February 1, 2019

    Netflix’s local content push in the UK

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    With the UK perhaps Netflix’s most valuable market outside the US—home to a stellar production sector—the streaming service is escalating its foray into local production, opening a content hub in London and moving from co-productions to direct commissions. As UK content completely dominates UK video viewing outside of the SVODs, to expand subscription reach Netflix is endeavouring to become an alternative to the PSBs’ entertainment output; this local spend is efficient given the universality and worldwide appetite for British content. With a growing proportion of local content expenditure now coming from Netflix and other SVODs, there are ramifications for both broadcasters and producers—loss of viewing, potential market pressure, increased competition for premium content and hesitancy around their own SVOD plans—along with implications for the cultural landscape.
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  • January 21, 2019

    UK advertising spend: Brexit year forecasts

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    Our central case forecast with orderly EU withdrawal predicts 2.7% growth for total UK advertising spend, down from 4.7% in 2018. We have a no-deal Brexit scenario that predicts a smaller advertising recession than in 2009, with total ad spend declining 3% and display down 5.3% in 2019. The total advertising figures partly mask the pressure on UK consumers, through an expansion of the measured advertising spend universe. This is due to significant self-serve online advertising growth by SMEs, and non-advertising marketing budgets moving to online advertising platforms. In a downturn, we’d expect advertisers to become more tactical, which would disproportionally affect display media including TV, which is further affected by declining commercial impacts among younger adults. Search and social advertising would see only small growth through the first year of a recession.
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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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  • 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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