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  • TV platform forecasts to 2026: DTT and pay-lite set to grow
    TV platform forecasts to 2026: DTT and pay-lite set to grow
    January 11, 2018

    Italy’s Serie A desperately fighting football rights deflation

    Results of the league’s new call for tender for its 2018-21 broadcasting rights will be unveiled on 22 January. The platform-based packaging was reviewed after last year’s aborted auction, apparently to accommodate loss-making Mediaset Premium, the participation of which remains nevertheless uncertain. Sky could keep its current satellite and internet coverage without increasing its outlay. We expect no major Telecom Italia (TI) or GAFA bid. Serie A seeks an unrealistic €1.05 billion per year (up 24%). If the auction results fall short, it hopes to sell rights to financial investors or, in a last resort, to launch its own channel – both ideas smacking of recklessness
  • January 10, 2018

    Premier League auction developments: more is less

    BT and Sky’s content cross-wholesaling deal much reduces their risks of losing packages in the upcoming Premier League auction, with most of the strategic platform value of exclusive sports rights now wiped out. The PL auction structure offers more games but less value, with the two smaller packages particularly unattractive, which cleverly nudges BT to retain a more expensive package, and thus most of its spending, if it wishes to downsize. While demand from all potential rights buyers appears weak, paying less money to retain the same position will be challenging for the incumbents Sky and BT given high minimum package prices, with courage necessary to force these minimums to be reassessed
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  • January 9, 2018

    Video on demand insights: Netflix, Amazon and the iPlayer

    Even with the decline in linear television viewing, online video remains a small component of total video consumption. The growth area is unsurprisingly SVOD; subscription video now makes up about two thirds of the UK's digital video spend. Netflix is moving from an aggregator of content to a "channel" in its own right, increasing proportionate spend on original programming, something that the public service broadcasters are unable to do for differing reasons. Amazon had a tough 2017 for video, and are still struggling to create a hit. New Nielsen audience data suggests that the long-term "library value" of Netflix's originals may be overstated, while the BBC's iPlayer continues to be hampered by not really having a library at all.    
  • TV platform forecasts to 2026: DTT and pay-lite set to grow
    TV platform forecasts to 2026: DTT and pay-lite set to grow
    December 12, 2017

    Children’s changing video habits:And implications for the conte [...]

    Children’s media use and attitudes have dramatically changed over the last few years, stemming from the rapid take-up of smartphones and tablets. Traditional TV continues to decline at the expense of newer video services such as YouTube, Netflix and Amazon, with 43% of children aged 8-15 preferring YouTube videos over TV programmes.These online services offer content producers wider opportunities, but questions remain around the lack of regulation online, and the recent scandal around children’s safety on YouTube has heightened these concerns.
  • December 5, 2017

    Channel 5: three years on from Viacom’s acquisition

    Viacom’s 2014 acquisition of Channel 5 from Richard Desmond’s Northern & Shell occurred while the maelstrom encircling linear television viewing—sparked by the allure of SVODs and other digital distractions—was well underway. Nevertheless, with increased content spend, development of new titles and clarity as to its targeted audience, the broadcaster has increased its channel (and group) share amongst 16-34s and ABC1s, and has directed further benefits back to its owner's existing entertainment suite. Outside of the post-lunch and 8-10pm slots, however, work needs to be done: Channel 5’s BVOD proposition and social media offering leaves much to be desired, while the reliance on two major titles, Big Brother and Neighbours will be unsustainable in a post-linear world.
  • December 1, 2017

    UK TV set viewing trends

    BARB data indicates that the amount of average daily TV set viewing to linear TV channels is continuing to fall: the pie is shrinking. Just under 20% of TV set usage so far in 2017 is to non-linear activity, and viewing to SVOD services and YouTube is likely to account for most of this growth in 'unmatched' viewing. The pie is shrinking faster amongst younger audiences: just under one third of TV set usage is 'unmatched' now for 16-34s. However 35+ unmatched use is growing at a faster rate than 16-34 unmatched use in 2017. Within this smaller pie, the PSB channels continue to hold share of viewing against pay channels. Within the PSBs, ITV and the ITV digital channel family have gained most share so far this year, although BBC1 is having a strong autumn in spite of the loss of Great British Bake Off to C4.
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  • November 13, 2017

    BT Q2 2017/18 results: Unresolved issues

    BT Group revenue growth dipped to -1.5% from an instance of rare modest positive growth in the previous quarter, albeit mostly due to a predicted price timing effect in Consumer and revenue growth predictably going from bad to worse in Global Services. The bright spots were continued strong 4% revenue growth at EE, with an acceleration in mobile-related revenue also helping other divisions, and strong growth of 5% in external revenues at Openreach driven by accelerating fibre adoption by competitor customers. A number of very important regulatory/policy/legal issues remain unresolved, including 5G spectrum auction rules, leased line pricing, FTTC pricing and FTTP roll-out rules, but without a number of these going BT’s way the outlook remains tough for at least the next 18 months
  • November 13, 2017

    PSB: Working with the frenemy

    Public service broadcasting (PSB) and the entire unique broadcasting ecosystem face huge challenges from global tech giants with deep pockets, data insights and scant regard for PSB prominence. All three pillars of the PSB model are threatened: content supply, distribution and advertising. The further threat of digital terrestrial TV (DTT) spectrum being reduced or turned off in c.2030 is real and PSBs must have a migration path in place. PSBs can counter some challenges through increased investment in content relevant to the UK consumer. But, recognising the aligned interests with pay-TV platforms of Sky and Virgin Media, collaboration between the parties is integral to the long-term future of PSB
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  • November 8, 2017

    Premier League: winner’s curse

    The Premier league (PL) will be hoping for another huge increase in rights payments in the upcoming auction for the three seasons starting 2019/20. Aggressive competition between BT Sport and Sky has led to hyperinflation of most premium sports rights. Sport now accounts for two thirds of multichannel content spend, but only 8% of its viewing. BT’s current financial position makes it difficult to justify expansion or further hyperinflation of its PL rights portfolio, but it cannot withdraw completely
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  • October 17, 2017

    Sky Q1 2017/18 results: Solid quarter, but challenges remain

    Sky made a strong start to fiscal 2018, with improved customer net adds across each of its markets versus the previous quarter, as well as group revenue growth at 5%. Operating profits switched back to growth, after the negative Premier League effect annualised out, with it now settled at the full cost of £1.4 billion per year. EBITDA growth hit 11%, or 15% excluding the effect of UK mobile and the Spanish OTT launch. Against the backdrop of continued uncertainty around the UK advertising market, attention has turned to the upcoming Premier League auction, though we think it unlikely that digital players will cause disruption
  • October 17, 2017

    News and Facebook

    Even though Facebook is not a producer of news, 6.5 million UK internet users claim to mainly source their news from the platform. Posts and shares by friends in the user's network, in the context of Facebook's algorithm, determine the order of stories in the personalised News Feed, removing the control of the news agenda that publishers have for their websites. Premium publishers operating a paywall (The Times, The Financial Times) have a lower key approach to Facebook than publishers generating advertising revenue from referral traffic to their websites or from on-platform consumption of Instant Articles. The latter will seek to stimulate social media engagement, optimising stories through attention-grabbing headlines, and installing Facebook’s share and like buttons on their websites. Case studies of the news stories that were prominent on Facebook (measured by likes, comments and shares) in the periods leading up to the Brexit Referendum and General Election 2017 votes respectively demonstrate that newspaper brands (the Express for Brexit, and The Guardian for the General Election) achieved the highest reach on Facebook during these periods, despite being ranked below other news brands (BBC in particular) in terms of traffic to their websites
  • September 25, 2017

    Netflix’s edge over broadcasters

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    The development and utilisation of streaming technologies has allowed major SVODs, such as Netflix and Amazon, to attain a growing proportion of video viewing. However, tech is just one of the advantages held by these services: plateauing content expenditure, the inability to retain IP and inconsistent regulatory regimes hamper the efforts of the UK’s public service broadcasters. The localised nature of audience tastes, as well as the diversity of PSB offerings remain a bulwark to aid in the retention of relevance but content spend cannot lag
  • September 5, 2017

    Network TEN – SOLD (probably)!

    A late twist in the Network TEN saga will see the Australian media asset most-likely owned by US media giant, CBS Corporation.
  • August 28, 2017

    Voicing concerns: virtual assistants and the media

    Voice, and the smart virtual assistants that power voice interfaces, will be a key transformative force over the next five years. Any business providing content or services via digital means is potentially affected, as these virtual assistants promise a single front end for all digital services, representing an extraordinary concentration of control over discovery, delivery and data. Media businesses will clearly be affected. But there is an opportunity for them right now to influence the assistant providers to their advantage, a window that will not stay open forever
  • August 16, 2017

    Channel 4 relocation and dislocation

    Channel 4 revenues and content spend hit record levels in 2016, but the company faces a declining TV advertising market in 2017 due to a weaker economy and competition. The company’s ability to deliver its unique remit to audiences and producers is also under pressure from Government proposals to move staff outside London. Because Channel 4 can only commission, a move will not stimulate a creative cluster. Risks to the remit include the loss of talent and lower content spend due to higher opex
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  • August 9, 2017

    Sky progress against headwinds: FY 2017 results

    Sky's full year results for fiscal 2017 are largely in line with company guidance on revenues, costs and synergies given on Investor Day last October, while the company expects further progress in fiscal 2018. Operating profits were badly hit by the massive increase of £629 million in annual payments to the Premier League, however, due to revenue and cost efficencies elsewhere, they fell by just £97 million, testifying to the overall strength of the Sky business. The results presentation revealed a clear sense of strategic direction, supported by much glossy and positive detail, yet revealed relatively little about the headwinds that Sky and other pay-TV operators now face, including the evident decline in Sky UK DTH subscriptions
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  • August 4, 2017

    ITV Studios offsets weak NAR: ITV H1 2017 results

    ITV H1 2017 results are in line with guidance contained in its Q1 trading update issued in May, while full year guidance has remained largely unaltered. The 8% decline in TV NAR, timing of programme deliveries and increased business investment were main reasons for the 8% drop in group EBITA despite growth elsewhere limiting the decline in group external revenues to 3%. ITV continues to deliver strong group profit margins of close to 30%; however, online poses several threats to TV NAR. The threats can only be increased by the quest for retransmission fees, whilst the spate of production acquisitions raises questions about risk management
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  • August 4, 2017

    Facebook video: escaping the News Feed

    Facebook video consumption - and video ad revenue - is still concentrated on the mobile News Feed, limiting engagement growth and appeal to brand advertisers in the interim period before VR and AR go mainstream. Features like a dedicated video hub and ad breaks have seen limited deployment, likely as a result of lukewarm user reception, but Instagram Stories holds promise. To attract long-form viewing Facebook is cautiously investing in original TV content and sports rights, but is late to the game over audiences on connected TVs
  • July 26, 2017

    TalkTalk Group Q1 2017/18 results: Still growing the base

    TalkTalk sustained positive broadband net adds in the June quarter, adding 20k to its base, largely driven by reduced churn, which was largely driven by re-contracting a large proportion of existing customers onto its new cheaper bundles. Unfortunately, this had a negative effect on revenue growth, with Group revenue growth (ex-carrier) dropping to -3.2%, as the new cheaper bundle adoption diluted ARPU, but the company remains confident that revenue growth will turn positive for the full financial year as the ARPU dilution effect annualises out. The company recently announced a price rise due in August of around 5-6% for customers not on its new cheaper bundles (around 38% of its total broadband base), which will help with the ARPU turnaround, but may make maintaining positive broadband net adds more challenging
  • 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
  • July 24, 2017

    Channel 4 set for the future: 2016 annual report

    2016 has seen Channel 4 break new records in growing revenues and investing in content origination, whilst making further progress in delivering its remit and maintaining audience share for its main channel. However, the second half of 2016 and early months of this year promise a significantly tougher 2017 as the economic and TV advertising climate has worsened and the future is clouded with uncertainties. Channel 4 nonetheless starts from a relatively strong position financially and we expect it to be well capable of sustaining its remit under the leadership of its new CEO Alex Mahon, though much hinges on the outcome of the Government consultation on relocation
  • Retransmission fees back on the burner
    Retransmission fees back on the burner
    July 21, 2017

    Retransmission fees back on the burner

    The debate over the entitlement of free-to-air PSBs to retransmission fees from pay-TV platforms has simmered for the last few years, yet promises to boil over once the Digital Economy Act 2017 (DEA 2017) comes into force; as expected in late July/early August. The repeal of section 73 of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 (CDPA 1988) has removed a barrier to negotiations between the PSBs and the cable operator Virgin Media over retransmission fees, seen by some as the thin end of a wedge for obtaining such fees across all pay-TV platforms. However, pressing for retransmission fees could have the opposite effect of what the PSBs – in particular the commercial PSBs – wish for, threatening as it does to undermine the principles of universality and free access at the point of use, so long the bedrock of public service broadcasting in the UK.

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  • July 4, 2017

    BBC Three: one year online

    In February 2016, the BBC moved its youth-focused channel BBC Three out of the broadcast sphere and into an online-only delivery system, as part of plans intended to find an extra £100m in savings laid out in 2014.The new service would aim to continue fulfilling the channel’s remit of delivering innovative and diverse content to a key audience of 16-34s, but with greater emphasis on short-form and various more digitally focused formats.Now, more than a year on, the effort shows the difficulty traditional media brands have in adapting to space occupied by niches that primarily digital brands have carved out, although the ‘channel’ still manages largely to deliver on its remit with much of its original content

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