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  • February 1, 2016

    China OTT and SVOD

    China holds tremendous appeal to studios and OTT video services, boasting an audience of 460 million online video users in mid-2015 (69% of internet users), which could exceed 900 million by 2020 by our estimate.

    China’s OTT video marketplace generated estimated revenues of $5 billion in 2015, of which two-thirds was due to ad-supported streaming and the rest to paid video streaming.

    Netflix recently pledged to enter China, although the current regulatory environment presents substantial, perhaps insurmountable, challenges to a direct-to-consumer offering

  • 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.

  • January 5, 2016

    Channel 4 market impact

    Channel 4 is a key pillar of the UK’s audio-visual economy. Its unique commissioning model fosters a hotbed of new creative UK talent, an ecosystem of independent producers, many micro. Channel 4 commissions a greater share of its budget than any other broadcaster, public or private, also fostering the creative economy outside the M25, and 9% of commissions will be to the Nations by 2020. The future success of the stand-alone independent production companies is not in the hands of ITV and Channel 5, but of Channel 4 and the BBC – the pure PSBs.

  • December 18, 2015

    Channel 4: sustainability and privatisation

    The newly elected Conservative government is exploring all the options for privatising Channel 4, but faces a complex legislative pathway. The privatisation case would be made easier if the current model were unsustainable. Only, Channel 4 is delivering its remit with great success, is commercially sustainable, and promises both to remain highly sustainable and grow its PSB contribution through its current licence ending in 2024. Channel 4 privatisation offers small returns to the Treasury as long as the remit, IP ownership restrictions and ban on vertical integration remain in place.

  • December 11, 2015

    Canal+: things will get worse before they get better

    Booming sales in Africa offset the steady decline of the Canal+/CanalSat subscriber base in France, delivering low but positive group revenue growth. Canal+’s management, now firmly under Vincent Bolloré’s control, is committed to reversing the French decline by investing €2 billion in new set top boxes and content – but production of original series is hampered by corporatist regulation and the market for sports rights is increasingly competitive. Earnings are slipping – under a high fixed cost model any revenue decline depresses profit margin. The trend will worsen under the weight of the increase in domestic football costs next year as well as the planned extra spend on content and set-top boxes.

  • 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.

  • November 27, 2015

    US entertainment groups and consolidation

    US entertainment groups have enjoyed strong revenue growth thanks to pay-TV, subscription video-on-demand and international sales, despite headwinds on the advertising market and downward pressures on retail pay-TV prices. Media merger and acquisitions have mainly failed, but strengthening the hand of the content producers in relation to distribution channels remains relevant and arguably even more important due to the sheer financial and audience size of digital operators, although the studios' pricing power remains unchallenged. 21st Century Fox could then justify a new bid for Time Warner, although it will struggle to address TW's objections to the previous offer without taking on a huge pile of debt.

  • November 23, 2015

    YouTube Kids app lands in the UK

    The YouTube Kids app aimed at young children hands parents more control of the increasingly popular YouTube experience. Ads served to kids on the app will observe similar rules to those on broadcast TV, easily circumvented on YouTube by commercial video programming. The app will directly compete with the popular ad-free CBeebies iPlayer channel, TV channels and Netflix.

  • November 20, 2015

    Retransmission fees: a Pandora’s box

    The government is expected to announce a Digital Bill in Q1 2016 that will propose profound changes to the structure and funding of the public service broadcasters (PSBs) in television, one of its aims being to enable them to extract retransmission fees from pay-TV platforms, valued at £200 million a year or more for the commercial PSBs. So far the government has only committed itself in its March 2015 consultation paper to the repeal of Section 73 of the Copyright, Designs and Patent Act (CDPA 1988), which in isolation will adversely impact only the Virgin Media cable platform. Now its ambitions appear to go far beyond introducing retransmission fees towards dismantling the entire UK PSB TV regulatory infrastructure of privileges and obligations and paving the way towards vacation of the DTT spectrum.

  • 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 11, 2015

    Trinity Mirror buys scale with Local World

    By fully acquiring Local World, Trinity Mirror has bought scale advantage in the local media marketplace, and accelerated a much needed growth story for digital assets. The medium term outlook for local media continues to look stormy, underlining the importance of investment in technology and new platforms for publishing, journalism and marketing, essential for longer term sustainability. Consolidation is needed to drive a more cost-effective investment phase as the transition to digital continues apace, provided the competition authorities do not interfere.
  • 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.

  • November 4, 2015

    Watching TV and video in 2025

    Television has seen massive change and it has held up remarkably well since the era of satellite and cable dawned in the US in the mid-seventies; but now there is a sense of transformation in the air as broadcast TV gives ground to limitless video on multiple screens. Viewing habits are changing very rapidly indeed among the under-35s due to a combination of cohort and life stage factors, although we are also seeing change among older age groups. In spite of all the change that is now taking place, our latest long term forecasts point to the broadcast sector as continuing to account for the greater share of viewing for many years to come absent government intervention, which cannot be ruled out.

  • 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 26, 2015

    ITV acquires UTV TV – where next?

    The launch of UTV Ireland in the Republic has proved less than successful for UTV Media and has led to its divestment and that of its Channel 3 licence in Northern Ireland. ITV has bought UTV Television for £100m cash and will own 13 of the 15 regional Channel 3 licences, though we do not see a play for STV in the medium term. UTV Media is now able to fully focus on its main profit centre – its growing radio business in the UK and Ireland.

  • October 9, 2015

    Sky’s cost discipline in Italy close to being vindicated

    In Italy, pay coverage of the Champions League shifted from Sky to Mediaset Premium this season. Alongside a new Serie A contract, this adds an extra €300 million to Mediaset Premium’s cost base. The first results indicate that Mediaset is unlikely to meet its subscriber growth target. On current trends we expect cumulative EBIT losses of over €400 million by 2018. Mounting losses may force Mediaset to close or sell Premium, but fear of Sky may slow decision-making. Sky was probably right not to overbid for the Champions League and the savings should more than offset minor subscriber losses.

  • October 6, 2015

    Sky Deutschland: approaching profitability?

    The push for accelerated subscriber acquisition has stalled Sky Deutschland’s underlying growth in profits as promotions have undermined ARPU. After being artificially suppressed by the introduction of two-year contracts, churn is poised to rise. Sky could maintain subscriber growth only through increased marketing and discounting – but this is unlikely. We expect EBIT breakeven before the end of the current Bundesliga contract in 2017. But sustained profitability depends on the outcome of the rights auction to be held next spring.
  • October 5, 2015

    Amazon’s Prime Directive

    Despite dropping the Fire Phone, Amazon has upped the ante in its battle for digital media consumers, upgrading its Fire TV devices and rolling out a new range of low price and robust tablets, starting from £50/$50, squarely aimed at the mass market. As with all Amazon devices aside from the failed phone, they are conduits for the company’s media and retail services, aimed at increasing purchases and forcing other platform operators to include them. Although shrinking as a share of Amazon’s business, media remains crucial, both for direct revenue and to attract customers to Prime, its membership programme, which by some estimates now accounts for the majority of its US sales.

  • October 1, 2015

    PSB at risk in the world

    Australia’s ABC and Canada’s CBC/Radio Canada have each suffered severe budget cuts imposed by governments without public or political debate and in spite of strong audience support. These cuts have impaired the international reach of ABC and CBC, as well as their investment in news and locally originated content. The UK’s reputation and standing in the world relies on the BBC’s services, its online presence, channels and its programming sales. And, just as in Canada and Australia, this valuable national soft power is and will be diminished by current government policy.

  • September 16, 2015

    BBC TV airwaves beyond 2026?

    The DCMS Green Paper on Charter Renewal does not mention the DTT spectrum, but the question of its future is never far away, in particular where it refers to the recent explosion of choice and poses questions about universality. The former 470-862 MHz band reserved for broadcast TV will already have shrunk to 470-694 MHz by 2022 following intense international pressure from the mobile sector. Absent a strong defence case, we cannot rule out total clearance from the mid-twenties. As things stand, replacement of the DTT spectrum by the internet will have devastating consequences for the entire TV broadcast ecosystem. Most importantly, examination of viewing trends leads us to conclude that the UK public will not be ready for at least another 20 years.

  • September 10, 2015

    BBC TV – impact on investment in UK content

    Responding to the Green Paper’s question on the BBC’s market impact, this report finds that the UK’s creative economy would suffer a 25-50% decline of investment in new UK content “if BBC TV did not exist at all”. Advertising-supported broadcasters would gain little, if any, extra revenue from expanded commercial audiences. ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and non-PSB multichannel broadcasters would be unable to fill the gap in investment left by the BBC. Pay-TV platforms could gain significant revenues although the loss of BBC TV programming, with 30% viewing share, would increase costs. Pay-TV platforms invest <10p on the £ of revenue in new UK content excluding sport so they, too, would not fill the gap left by the BBC.