UK Media

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    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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  • June 22, 2020

    Online consumer reviews – Platforms reach for the stars

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    Online reviews are a vital input for consumer decision-making. However, reviews are easy to manipulate, and widespread fraud is undermining credibility and raising the issue of consumer protection
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  • December 10, 2019

    Pressure on Facebook over political advertising

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    With elections in the UK in December, and in the US in 2020, online political advertising is receiving intense scrutiny. Google has announced limits on targeting, while Twitter has banned politicians from buying ads. Facebook is the big player in online political ads, and it continues to allow targeted political ads, and to carve them out as exempt from fact-checking. Facebook wants to keep Republicans on side and surf the revenue opportunity, but pressure will increase with US elections, and we expect Facebook to bring in restrictions.
  • December 9, 2019

    Prime Video Channels: part of Amazon UK’s bigger picture

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    Amazon Channels’ aggregation of third-party streaming services enhances the consumer appeal of its wider video proposition, provides incremental revenues and increases the stickiness of the Prime shopping service. Content partners range from major players (e.g. Discovery and ITV) to the more niche (e.g. MUBI and Tastemade), who all benefit from a ready-made platform, billing relationships and a receptive subscriber base. But the revenue shares, data costs and lack of direct customer relationships remain too high a price for some. Two and a half years on from its UK launch, opportunities for live, ad-supported and bundled content are diversifying the platform, but Amazon must prioritise discovery within Prime Video to continue to flourish.

  • November 26, 2019

    Local UK media at a crossroads: from incremental to radical innov [...]

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    Local newspapers are often identified as the most disrupted of all media. The impact of declining news media has widespread implications: for the healthy functioning of democracy, community and social cohesion as well as for local business and trade. In this report we look briefly at the existential state of local news media, and spell out a radical new approach that would require a complete rethink of local journalism and its commercial and operating models. We reimagine local media as a start-up would, rather than as incumbents with expensive models to maintain.
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  • November 25, 2019

    Sky UK Q3 2019 results: balanced, but more to come?

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    While Sky’s overall revenues continue to rise, Q3’s growth was hampered by a significant fall in advertising revenue and to a lesser extent a slowdown in content sales. Underlying EBITDA growth was in the mid-teens. Next quarter, Sky will continue to benefit from lower Premier League rights costs versus last season, and profit appears on track to meet full year guidance. Q3 saw a rare decline in Sky’s total number of customers due to the conclusion of Game of Thrones. Sky clearly understands the value of unique content—recently extending its HBO deal. In our view, this was essential, since without a distribution deal for Disney+ (launching in the UK in March) Sky would lose Disney’s alluring content.

  • November 20, 2019

    Consumer magazine publishing in the UK

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    Long-known market trends have become even more accentuated: circulation decline is -13% (consumer spend decline is c. -3%); print advertising is down -12%, with online advertising spend up a mere 1% (see pages 3, 11)

  • November 6, 2019

    Champions League rights auction: BT’s cost-cutting opportunity

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    Champions League UK TV rights, at £394m/season, appear to have reached a ceiling, with costs on a per match basis now comparable to the more-desirable Premier League. In the imminent auction, current rightsholder BT is the clear frontrunner. Potential competitors appear reluctant: Sky Sports has thrived since losing the rights in 2015, and no other players can reasonably compete at this spend. This presents BT with a golden opportunity to rein in costs, with a view to moving BT Sport towards breakeven at an important time for the wider business, considering the financial pressure it is facing

  • October 14, 2019

    Women’s sport: inching towards the UK media mainstream

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    Media coverage of women’s sport escalated this summer thanks to the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, which ignited national interest. The Lionesses attracted an exceptional peak TV audience of 11.8 million for England’s semi-final match against the USA. Still, coverage of women's sport remains minimal outside of major events: only 4% of printed sports articles reference female athletes. Quality press are leading the way—the launch of Telegraph Women’s Sport being the prime example—but the popular press are yet to follow. Freely-accessible coverage will generate greater interest and audiences for women’s sport, but continuous investment from all media will be needed to fulfil its potential.
  • October 10, 2019

    UK BVOD advertising: on-demand in demand

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    Broadcaster video on demand (BVOD) advertising is in demand with an £89m rise in 2018 spend to £391m, and is predicted to double within the next six years. The rise of on-demand viewing has created a scaled advertising proposition with a strong 16-34 profile – a relief for both broadcasters and advertisers, given the long-term decline in linear TV impacts for younger audiences. Big challenges remain: linear TV ad loads look excessive in on-demand, BVOD CPTs can be off-puttingly high, and measurement is still unresolved. BVOD is a welcome bright spot which faces online video competition head-on, but it won’t be able to turn broadcasters’ fortunes around alone
  • September 30, 2019

    Time to liberalise UK TV advertising minutage

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    The UK TV advertising market, in decline since mid-2016, could benefit from a liberalisation of advertising minutage if Ofcom reviews COSTA and decides to make changes. Broadcasters could gain from the flexibility to devote up to 20% of peaktime minutes to advertising under the EU’s revised Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD). Ofcom could also level the playing field between PSB and non-PSB channels, although more minutes of advertising on TV is unlikely to inverse the medium’s decline.
  • September 24, 2019

    Amazon’s pivot to Marketplace

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    Amazon, the gatekeeper to 100 million Prime members, is increasingly reliant for growth on Marketplace, where third-party sellers compete with first-party products. Amazon’s multi-channel platform strategy delivers choice and low prices to customers, but third-party sellers have increasingly complained that their playing field is not level. After Amazon’s seller agreements were modified in August to implement a competition ruling in Germany, the European Commission is now investigating the data layer.
  • July 1, 2019

    Reader-first news media: From transition to transformation

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    The number of people willing to pay for online news now roughly matches print paid circulation, and will soon be substantially greater, with publishers increasingly demonstrating that their strategies are influencing industry outcomes. Our thesis is that subscriptions work in some cases, but that a more systematic reader-first approach benefits all cases, recalibrating management focus to media’s core purpose. Effectively implementing such an approach is a more radical, transformative development than is sometimes assumed. The winners will deploy sophisticated, bespoke audience acquisition and retention funnels and undergo detailed appraisals of the trade-offs necessary for optimal user experiences.
  • 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.