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  • 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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  • July 3, 2017

    End-game for the merger of 21CF and Sky

    Secretary of State (SoS) Karen Bradley has made an initial decision to refer 21CF’s bid for Sky to the Competition Markets Authority (CMA) for a detailed consideration of media plurality concerns, to be finalised in the near future. The issue at hand is the potential increase in the influence of the members of the Murdoch Family Trust (MFT) over the UK’s news agenda and political process. The SoS rejected the remedy for Sky News brokered by Ofcom. Ofcom’s non-negative decision on the fitness and propriety of 21CF to hold Sky’s broadcast licences cleared another hurdle in the event the merger is finally accepted.

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  • June 29, 2017

    Ten Network– going once, going twice, gone…?

    Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the biggest technological revolution since the digital age. Businesses and industries will experience a huge boost to productivity and efficiency, and save costs across their entire value chains. Economic, legal and ethical challenges need to be overcome for AI to become widespread.

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  • June 27, 2017

    UK broadband, telephony and pay TV trends Q1 2017: Profit warning [...]

    UK residential communications market revenue growth dipped modestly to 2.7% in Q1, from 3.3% in the previous quarter. This was mainly driven by ARPU weakness arising due to the timings of Sky and Virgin Media’s price rises, but weakness also stemmed from the sustained decline in broadband volume growth and continued new customer price competition.Looking forward, the implementation of an overlapping price increase from BT, as well as Sky’s price increases coming into full effect, should boost market revenues by around 1ppt in Q2 2017, but this will drop away again by Q3. The churn fallout from the communication of these price increases should also dissipate in Q2, benefiting BT and Sky competitively, and making it challenging for TalkTalk to repeat the feat of recovering to positive retail broadband net adds

  • June 13, 2017

    Sky is favourite in twin (and odd) Italian football auctions

    Domestic championship and Champions League rights for 2018-21 are auctioned almost simultaneously. The main uncertainties are the extent to which Sky will increase its exclusive coverage of Serie A, and whether it will try to win the Champions League auction to take advantage of rival Mediaset Premium’s announced retreat. We doubt that telecom or digital operators will be tempted by the €200m minimum price for the two internet-only packages with patchy regional coverage – a bad idea mandated by the regulator. However irrational behaviour at auctions should never be ruled out.

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  • June 10, 2017

    BT Q4 2016/17 results: Mobile strength, pressure elsewhere

    BT had a reasonable quarter in its consumer broadband business given market pressures, and a very strong one at EE with continued growth acceleration. It had a good quarter for fibre adoption as well, helping its wholesale divisions stabilise their revenue, but business/IT was weak as expected.Regulatory pressure remains intense despite the (welcome) Openreach agreement, with price cap regulation proposed or due on a range of products, and a regulatory approach which is far from investment-orientated. Pressures in the business/IT market are likely to continue, and pressures in the consumer broadband market are likely to intensify, justifying BT’s current cautious approach to guidance and dividends.

  • June 9, 2017

    UK General Election online: news and advertising

    In contrast to print coverage, most shared news and opinion content on social media was decidedly pro-Labour this election season, with fake news relatively non-existent compared to the US election in November. Facebook’s role in news distribution has steadily grown and now rivals Google’s, but only a half of the UK’s electorate are active users – for the platform to become decisive in political news would require much stronger turnout among young voters. Facebook was the chief digital ad platform for both main parties, with Conservatives targeting Labour seats, Labour defending them and both adopting a negative tone.

  • June 8, 2017

    Nintendo Switching to a new console era

    The successful launch of the Nintendo Switch creates a new console model, and demonstrates the staying power and long term value of great franchises. Microsoft reveals the specification for Scorpio, but it won’t be enough to catch up to Sony. New franchises, and probably new leadership, will be the key to stopping Xbox sliding into irrelevance outside North America. Sony’s PlayStation 4 now exceeds 60m units worldwide, allowing Sony more freedom to publish a wide range of challenging creative console games, while VR games continue to gain momentum.

  • June 6, 2017

    BBC Studios: make or break

    The launch of BBC Studios - the relocation of most of the broadcaster's in-house production capability into a commercial subsidiary - gives it the ability to compete for work elsewhere at the expense of a guaranteed quota at the BBC. The upside is large, with the opportunity to retain an increased amount of intellectual property, a requirement of growing importance. However, so is the risk, with sustainability dependent upon a major cultural shift; from comfortably retained provider to competitive production engine. Outside of a weak track record when competing for work, other entwined issues must be overcome for success in the medium term; demonstration of transparency in the commissioning process and watertight transfer pricing practices, and the dispelling of state aid concerns.

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  • June 1, 2017

    ITV et al. facing the NAR squeeze

    ITV’s latest trading Q1 trading update has sent a clear warning signal to the commercial TV industry as it gave guidance of 8-9% year-on-year decline in TV NAR (Net Advertising Revenue) in H1 2017. A substantial portion of the projected decline may be attributed to economic issues and relatively tough Q1 comparatives as per ITV guidance; however, there are clear signs of growing intrusion by online video advertising on traditional broadcast TV NAR. A review of trends points to major biases that swing the market towards the online space. It is time for all to reconsider both the impact of CRR (Contract Rights Renewal) in restraining TV NAR and the factors – by no means all sound – pushing up online video spend

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  • May 25, 2017

    Amazon Channels: bite-sized pay-TV for the whole family

    After a US debut, Amazon’s marketplace of SVOD services arrives in the UK and Germany, but without the major draws of HBO and Showtime. Unbundling SVOD for premium content strengthens Amazon’s position in the fast-developing connected TV landscape, where Prime Video is taking on Netflix, NOW TV and YouTube. For niche content providers, Amazon Channels provides a new, low-friction route to go direct-to-consumer with a mix of live and on-demand premium content alongside existing distribution strategies.

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  • Free
    May 25, 2017

    Disruption in Payments: Time to throw out your wallet?

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    As the usage of cash declines, we are trending towards a cashless society supported by new payment technologies.Within the next decade, cashless methods will be preferred, and have mostly positive implications for both businesses and consumers.However, cash will still be with us and being used for well over the next 20 years.

  • UKTV 2016 results: viewing continues to climb, what awaits online
    UKTV 2016 results: viewing continues to climb, what awaits online
    May 19, 2017

    UKTV 2016 results: viewing continues to climb, what awaits online [...]

    2016 was another good year for UKTV, with appreciable growth in revenue and linear viewing share; a trajectory the product of a sensitive pay/free balance of its channels, investment in productive EPG slots and development of its original programming suite. Recent deals with both Sky and Channel 4 will go some way to providing financial stability, allowing UKTV to invest with more certainty in new content and encouraging further development of its online proposition. UKTV Play has underperformed, chiefly due to a lack of content. But with plans to significantly ramp up both its offering and marketing spend, it may well unlock further audiences; specifically targeting elusive 16-34 year-olds.
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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
    May 5, 2017

    TV platform forecasts to 2026: DTT and pay-lite set to grow

    Our latest forecasts point to the continued strength of DTT within the UK broadcast market. We predict DTT-only homes will account for 42% of TV viewing ten years from now, up from 38% today. Much of this is due to the UK’s ageing population profile, since DTT skews older. The number of over-45s in DTT-only homes is set to increase by 13% by 2026. The other key factor is the continued growth of flexible pay-lite services—for example, Netflix and NOW TV—which are of greater appeal to younger audiences.

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  • May 3, 2017

    People, not devices: Audience buying in a cross-device world

    Cross-device identity profiles are used to stitch together fragmenting online ad audiences, but also to enable new links between advertising and marketing, across European markets. This moves value from media itself to understanding each consumer and how they access content and services on proliferating connected devices. By 2020 we predict that 58% of all UK online ad buys by value will make use of high-quality audience IDs, led by the largest advertising platforms but limited by privacy regulation and cost.
  • May 3, 2017

    Sky still on track: Q3 2017 results

    Sky delivered 5% year-on-year revenue growth over the first nine months at constant exchange rates, although operating profits fell due to several factors, most notably the massive step-up in UK Premier League TV payments under the new contract. On closer inspection, relatively weak UK & Ireland Q3 revenue growth compared with previous quarters largely reflects one-off special factors . Otherwise, positive quarters for Sky Germany & Austria and Sky Italy and improving cost efficiencies suggest that the Sky Group remains broadly on track to deliver its Investor Day 2016 guidance objectives.

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  • March 23, 2017

    Video viewing forecasts to 2026

    2016 was yet another year in which we saw big changes in the UK’s video consumption habits amongst the under-45s, with little let up in the decline of traditional broadcast linear TV viewing for the younger age groups. Online video-on-demand services will continue to grow, partly at the expense of traditional TV audiences. We also expect the overall volume of viewing to rise, mainly due to wider production of and access to short-form content. Despite these changes, conventional broadcasters look to be strong for years to come—we estimate they will still account for 80% of all video viewing in 2026
  • March 22, 2017

    360 and Virtual Reality: a new angle for video entertainment

    The temporary cool-off in hype around VR following a very buzzy 2016 is not reducing the flow of investment and talent into the industry, notably in video production utilising 360Video technology; setting the stage for the development of a truly new entertainment medium. Fully immersive interactive worlds will continue to be the mainstay of the video games industry, while video entertainment will exist in a multi-track environment, with some genres (news, documentaries , natural history) making 360Video mainstream well before long-form narrative-driven entertainment. 2017 will still be a challenging year for consumer device VR roll-out and mass market adoption; Oculus, Google, and Sony continue to seed the market, providing large scale funding and equipment directly to developers and content producers.

  • March 21, 2017

    21CF and the bid for Sky: state of play

    Secretary of State Karen Bradley has intervened on two UK public interest grounds in 21CF’s bid for 100% ownership of Sky: media plurality, as in 2010, and a commitment to broadcasting standards, new in 2017. Ofcom will assess any implications of 21CF’s full control of Sky on whether it is ‘fit and proper’ to hold a broadcast licence, reporting back on 16 May. Undertakings are a live issue in the 2016 bid, notably to protect the editorial independence of Sky News, noting the bid faces determined opposition from certain quarters.
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