UK Media

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  • New
    May 12, 2021

    BT Sport for sale: All change for the game changer

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    A move away from premium sport is long overdue from BT, with there having proved to be little strategic, 'halo' or other cross-over benefit to its core broadband and mobile businesses. Following a press leak the night before, BT last week (29 April 2021) confirmed that "early discussions" were taking place with "a number of select strategic partners" concerning the BT Sport business. The press leak revealed further that the discussions related to the sale of a stake in the business, with DAZN, Amazon, Disney and ITV reportedly in the frame.
  • New
    May 12, 2021

    Premier League rights: Forgoing a faithful formula?

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    The Premier League is reportedly seeking to roll over its existing domestic TV rights deal, in a bid to shore up its financial position given its losses during the pandemic In the wake of an explosion of football news surrounding the failed European Super League (ESL) breakaway, the Premier League reportedly wants to forgo the next auction for its live domestic broadcasting rights (which would cover the three seasons from 2022-25), and instead roll over its existing deals with Sky, BT and Amazon with broadly similar packages. Should this be achieved, we would expect to see a substantial discount in the negotiated price. It remains unknown whether the rollover would encompass all three seasons or simply delay the auction by a year or two. While there are obvious benefits for all the involved parties—mainly centring around financial stability and certainty, especially given the pandemic, which has cost the Premier League clubs an estimated additional £1.5 billion of operating losses[1]—the enormous sums at stake mean that negotiations are likely to be fierce. Reportedly, the Premier League has also sought permission from the UK government to pursue such an arrangement. [1] We estimate the collective operating losses of the 20 Premier League clubs to be c. £1.4 billion in fiscal 2020 and c. £1.3 billion in fiscal 2021. This compares to a baseline of £580 million of operating losses in 2019, pre-pandemic. Figures do not account for player trading.
  • May 5, 2021

    BBC licence fee settlement: Push outside London will need further [...]

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    • The launch of the BBC’s blueprint for its approach to the Nations and Regions is timely, coinciding with the kick-off of negotiations over the BBC’s financial settlement for the next charter period
    • If the licence fee were to be frozen or only an inflationary increase applied, by 2027 the BBC’s annual licence income would be £302-539 million lower in real terms. Just to maintain the BBC's current levels of funding, it would need an inflationary increase, plus an annual increase of 2.0%
    • The BBC's commercial ventures are unlikely to cover any shortfall in licence fee income. To generate sufficient dividends to cover the shortfall for the PSB group, income produced by BBC Studios (and the BBC’s other commercial ventures) would need to grow by an order of magnitude
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  • April 16, 2021

    US content distribution: Studios go direct to consumer

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    Despite relying on a narrow IP base, US content production is booming, overwhelming other markets and seeking alternative distribution to cinemas. Responding to the rise of Netflix and Amazon Prime, studios seek to shift distribution from wholesale to retail—but only Disney may succeed. Most content is likely to remain accessed by consumers through bundles. Provided they engage with aggregation, European broadcasters can adjust to the new studio model.
  • March 26, 2021

    Mail scoops Telegraph print advertising: Telegraph outsourcing fo [...]

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    • The Telegraph’s carefully executed outsourcing of print advertising sales to Mail Metro Media fine-tunes its subscriber-first strategy
    • Consolidation and collaboration are inevitable in a highly-competitive, structurally-shrinking news industry
    • Reader-first models have emerged as the consistent theme for quality publishers, but the trade-offs, investment approaches and executions are highly differentiated
  • March 17, 2021

    ITV FY 2020 results: Waiting for lockdown to end

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    ITV’s advertising revenue was down 11% in 2020—probably a relief given the unprecedented depths the TV ad market found itself in during April-July. However, the current lockdown has stunted advertising’s recovery and its trajectory will continue to be tied to the loosening of the same restrictions that continue to dictate movement and spend. It is not until April that ITV forecasts (+60-75% YoY) that money will rush back into the TV ad ecosystem, looking to make up for lost time.
  • March 11, 2021

    Outsourcing culture: When British shows aren’t ‘British’ [...]

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    • Growth in the UK production sector is being driven by increased investment by American streaming services, while local broadcasters rely on co-productions to fund increasingly-expensive, high-end content
    • However, while this investment is welcome, the output is predominantly less ‘British’ than that commissioned directly by local broadcasters
    • Distinctive and diverse British cultural touchpoints are created or perpetuated by television. Current trends suggest a dilution of this, a globalisation of local content, and perhaps less relevance to British viewers
  • March 9, 2021

    Virgin Media: Subscribers strong, ARPU tough to turn

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    • Virgin Media’s subscriber growth continues to be very strong, and it looks like next quarter’s price rise will (at worst) only stall, not stop, the renaissance
    • ARPU was hit in Q4 by the postponed price rise, and it will likely remain in decline in 2021, with regulatory pricing pressure and lockdown effects still weighing, despite firm new customer pricing
    • Nonetheless, accelerating subscriber growth is expected to drive group revenue growth positive again (helped by B2B growth), and Virgin Media’s main strategic problem—its fibre trilemma—looks like it will be dealt with after the merger with O2, expected
  • March 2, 2021

    (UK) Learning from “The Independent” : Sustainability [...]

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    • In a challenging media marketplace, quality online news services generated hundreds of thousands of new buyers in 2020, perhaps inching ahead of print in terms of UK household propensity-to-pay
    • But reader-first models are not only about subscriptions. The UK’s first national print title to go online-only, The Independent, has achieved operating profits since reconfiguring its cost base in 2016
    • The Independent defies many investor assumptions about news. Solutions for smaller businesses may diverge more from industry giants than is commonly expressed, and without distribution change, editorial, product and commercial transformation is slower
  • January 11, 2021

    (UK) Montgomery shakes news market again: JPI, third largest loca [...]

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    The low price paid reflects the dismal prospects for print media, especially regional and local titles relative to national titles. Over the past decade, regional publications were affected at a greater rate than national counterparts by the structural decline of print circulation and advertising, resulting in significantly more closures, as well as issue frequency reductions.
  • January 8, 2021

    Football rights economics: Low broadcasting competition underpins [...]

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    • Beyond the short-term impact of the COVID crisis, the value of football rights in Europe is heading down
    • Lower competitive intensity in the broadcasting market is the main reason, and looks unlikely to be reversed
    • The leagues must consider long-term initiatives to broaden demand—cash fixes risk worsening their structural problems
  • December 15, 2020

    Amazon Prime on Sky Q: Now almost fully aggregated

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    Sky has agreed to host Amazon Prime Video on its platform, effective today. The Amazon app appears in the App section of Sky Q set-top-boxes, which in the UK places it alongside the existing icons of BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Discovery+, Disney+, YouTube and Spotify (it is currently third in prominence).
  • December 11, 2020

    Discovery+ launch An opportunity to prove essential

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    Discovery has announced the global rollout of its direct-to-consumer (DTC) service, Discovery+. In the US, Discovery has a relatively straightforward story to tell: a stable of channels focused on "real life" content with a single business model—basic cable—pivoting towards DTC distribution
  • December 2, 2020

    BBC licence fee settlement : Further cuts will wound the sector

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    On 10 November, Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State (SoS) for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) wrote to the BBC to confirm the scope and the timing of the next licence fee settlement, which will cover the period from 2022 to 2027. Previous settlements, conducted without public pressure or scrutiny, have left the BBC with more obligations and less to spend on them, at a time when licence fee income is already around 30% lower than it would have been had it kept pace with inflation and not been given additional spending obligations. In response, the Corporation has undergone extensive programmes of cost-cutting and rationalisation of resources. While this has made the BBC leaner in an operational sense, there is now little fat to absorb further cuts to income. With the commitment to fixed long-term obligations such as its pension deficit, the threat remains that there will be less to spend on local and quality content, tech, regionality, and diversity, and as such, it cannot be expected that the BBC will continue to return the same kinds and volumes of value to the wider creative economy, as it is structured for.
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  • November 18, 2020

    ITV Q3 2020 results: Ads recovering, production may take longer

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    Advertising demand has risen, with total ad revenue down just 7% in Q3, and Q4 expected to be slightly up—this means ITV will be down just over 10% across 2020.

  • November 17, 2020

    Sky UK brings group back on track

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    Sky appears to have weathered the COVID-19 crisis, revealing an encouraging turnaround in its Q3 operating results, with revenue growth flat overall as each stream saw significant improvement from Q2
  • November 13, 2020

    Virgin Media: Subscriber growth renaissance continues

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    Virgin Media’s lockdown subscriber surge continued into Q3, as working-from-home highlights the importance of the faster speeds its network can offer.
  • November 12, 2020

    Google News Showcase An olive branch to publishers (and regulator [...]

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    On 1 October, Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced $1 billion for worldwide news publisher partnerships for a novel News Showcase product, helping them to distribute their content to a new audience.
  • November 4, 2020

    Channel 4 2019, 2020 and beyond

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    Channel 4’s 2019 results were solid but unsurprisingly, greater interest is in how the broadcaster has fared in 2020, and what this might mean for its future

  • August 21, 2020

    Virgin Media UK – Indeterminately boosted

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    Virgin Media had its strongest subscriber performance for years in Q2, with its (ex-Project Lightning) existing base footprint showing positive growth to add to the subscribers gained on its Project Lightning network extension. This was partly due to temporary factors, with both Openreach and Sky not able to do in-home installations for part of the quarter, but the company has reported some sustained momentum, with the crisis boosting demand for higher speed broadband, and has decided not to implement its usual annual price increase in H2 to avoid the usual accompanying churn and customer dissatisfaction, instead choosing to prioritise subscriber growth to compensate for the ARPU shortfall.
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  • August 11, 2020

    Sky UK Q2 2020 results – Emerging from the worst?

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    Sport is back, but its recent hiatus amid the COVID-19 crisis hit Sky hard, with Q2 revenue plunging 12.9% year-on-year. EBITDA remains flat for now, with sports rights cost absorption postponed but not cancelled
  • June 30, 2020

    Times Radio UK – A slow-build acquisition strategy

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    Times Radio launches as an ad-free commercial speech radio service on DAB and online. By extending brand reach, it forms part of the marketing funnel to convert listeners into subscribers
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  • June 29, 2020

    Disney kids’ channels – Ceasing operation in the UK

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    The Disney Channel, Disney XD and Disney Junior will cease to be broadcast in the UK. Carriage negotiations with the major platforms have clearly been going on for some time, with the March agreement for Sky Q to carry the new SVOD service Disney+ completed without any reference to the linear channels.
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  • June 24, 2020

    European football – An opportunity to reset

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    The COVID-19 crisis is compounding the already grim revenue prospects for upcoming football rights sales in continental Europe
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