Digiday 19 January 2018
Joseph Evans was quoted in an article on how Reuters is expanding its consumer business. The news giant, which has 250 staffers dedicated to consumer publishing globally, wants to modernize how it presents content on all 17 of its editions. So far, that has involved reorganizing thousands of articles into new topic channels such as The Future of Money, The Trump Effect, North Korea and Investigations. The publisher is testing this on the U.S. edition and plans to extend it internationally in the next six months. With these updates, Reuters hopes to give its users the chance to personalize their news feeds by selecting the most relevant topic channels for them. This method has worked well for the Reuters TV app — the first of its consumer products to feature personalized video news feeds. Joseph said “There’s a certain type of consumer for whom Reuters is a highly trusted news brand, so there could be an opportunity there. I can also understand the desire to diversify their business in the face of the financial pressures their B2B customers are under, but going further into consumer news provision is not the best way to escape a reliance on declining consumer news providers”.
The Economist 18 January 2018
Claire Enders was quoted in an article on the challenging market for football rights. For years the cost of rights to broadcast major sports in America and Europe has trended in one direction—up. This gravity-defying law shapes the economics of modern sport: as television operators bid ever more substantial sums, teams take in more revenue and star-player salaries (and transfer fees) climb higher. In 2017 that trajectory continued as broadcasters splurged on rights for Champions League football matches for 2018-21. This year gravity is reasserting itself. Top-flight football rights are out for tender in two major European leagues—England and Italy—and are expected to be put up for sale this year in France and Spain, too. Analysts expect relatively small increases in pay-outs (though Spain’s La Liga boss predicts a 30% rise)—and possibly a decline in Italy. Claire said “The happy days are over”.
Business Insider 15 January 2018
Matti Littunen was quoted in an article on Facebook’s News Feed. The company announced on Thursday that it would reduce the number of posts from businesses and media in the News Feed and instead prioritise updates from friends and family. CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that “passively” consuming updates from media and brands wasn’t good for people’s mental health and that the firm wanted to encourage people to post updates, comment on friends’ statuses, and share photos. However, big media organisations such as BuzzFeed, HuffPost, and Business Insider get huge amounts of referral traffic by publishing stories to people’s News Feed from their pages on the network. December data from Parsely showed that Facebook accounted for 26% of news organisations’ traffic. More traffic makes these publications more appealing to advertisers, so anything that threatens those numbers is a big deal. If Facebook alters the News Feed so that people see – and click on – fewer posts from these publishers, it follows that they will see a significant drop in readership. Matti said “For publishers, Facebook is frustratingly mum about all of this. There’s often very little warning before something like this happens – or when something happens, it’s hard to figure out what’s going on. A key question is whether this will affect all publications in the same way”. He said one reason Facebook is having to make changes is that it has rewarded spam publishers as much as quality ones. “Quality has not paid off on Facebook”.
the Telegraph 15 December 2017
Claire Enders was quoted in an article on Disney acquisition of most of Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox business. The $66bn (£49.1bn) deal will give Disney more control of the entire entertainment value chain - ranging from producing content to getting in front of an audience. As a result, Disney is reshaping its business in order to better compete with digital rivals that have transformed how the world watches TV and films in the space of few short years. Claire said "Sky has 22.5m subscribers in Europe. That's something they are going to build on. Disney wouldn't be paying for it if they [thought] it was on the skids fundamentally".
The Times 15 December 2017
Claire Enders was quoted in an article on 21st Century Fox’ takeover of Sky, which will proceed as planned despite Disney’s bid. 21st Century Fox owns 39 per cent of Sky and has bid £11.7 billion for the remainder. The Competition and Markets Authority is scrutinising how the offer would affect media plurality and broadcasting standards. Opponents have argued that sexual harassment scandals at Fox News rendered the group unfit to own Sky. However, Claire said “the minister is no longer facing a whipped-up parliament making claims that the Murdochs will ‘Foxify’ Sky News”. Sky has warned that it could shut down its loss-making news channel if the watchdog blocked the takeover. Concerns have been raised about Disney’s long-term commitment to subsidising a loss-making news network given the US group’s prime focus on profit-making family entertainment. Claire added “Disney does not run vanity businesses. We can clearly see from the announcement that Disney is planning to take several billion dollars out of the combined costs. I presume one of the cost savings they will seek to effect over time is the elimination of the losses at Sky News and Sky Sports. I would have thought that in two years’ time, Sky News will be subject to pressure to reduce losses and cut its costs”.
CNN 15 December 2017
Alice Enders was quoted in an article on the Disney Fox deal. The U.S. entertainment giant announced Thursday that it will spend $52.4 billion to swallow most of 21st Century Fox, including its minority stake in British pay TV provider Sky. However, long before it was for sale, Fox struck a $15 billion deal to buy the 61% of Sky it didn't already own. The takeover -- inked a year ago -- has repeatedly been delayed due to a U.K. government review and its future is in doubt. Alice said "this whole thing has snowballed with delays. The politics of the situation are very demanding". Moreover, Disney said in a statement on Thursday that Fox "remains fully committed to completing the current Sky offer" and expects the purchase to be finalized by June 2018. When the Disney deal closes, it would then assume full control of Sky. But the prospect of further delays looms large. Alice added that if Disney -- and not Fox -- were to make a future bid, the political opposition would "melt away."
the Guardian 14 December 2017
Claire Enders was quoted in an article on Rupert Murdoch who is set to announce a $60bn (£45bn) deal to sell assets in 21st Century Fox, including a 39% stake in Sky and a Hollywood studio, to rival Disney. The deal, which will reportedly be announced before the New York stock exchange opens on Thursday, or around midday UK time, marks a turning point in an empire building career that started in the 1950s and is expected to lead to a split in the Murdoch family dynasty. Rupert’s son James Murdoch, the Fox chief executive, will leave the company, either to join Disney in a senior role or set up his own venture. Claire said “It is a fundamental parting of ways between James and his father. It is an extraordinary change of dynamic. It means another company other than Fox will own Sky in due course. The level of power the Murdochs would have had owning 100% of Sky, including Sky News, and the newspapers and the issues that has raised will be washed away”.
Deadline 13 December 2017
Alice Enders was quoted in an article on the impending acquisition by Disney of Fox assets, which is believed to have major international implications. There are a handful of key areas of interest, including the creation of an international box office behemoth (and its concentration of power); and the face-off between a Disney/Fox OTT service and current global leader Netflix. In fact, earlier this year Disney was pulling its movies from Netflix beginning in 2019 and will launch its own ad-free, direct-to-consumer platform by late that year. However, Disney would not be entirely new to the offshore streaming party. It launched its Disney Life OTT service for kids in the UK in late 2015. Alice said it’s “not doing as well as Netflix because it’s a different proposition. What’s missing for Disney Life is the adult piece” which Fox would bring. She contends, “Disney doesn’t need Fox, it needs its assets for a credible OTT offering”.
Videonet 11 December 2017
Gill Hind was quoted in an article on how the premium video marketplace will evolve over the next few years. Gill highlighted what she believes is a dramatic decline in under-24s watching TV, said online SVOD giants like Netflix and Amazon are creating audiences for global content, and that they will dominate commissioning for super-premium content with international appeal. To complete the list of bad news, only 60% of all video viewing by under-24s will be captured by existing broadcasters by 2026, she said. The good news is that 80% of all video viewing in 2026, across the population as a whole, will be with today’s broadcasters. Most people will continue to get their localised content – which accounts for the vast majority of viewing – from these broadcasters. Hind concluded that the online giants are not going to compete with public service broadcasters in the UK, at least, and that their content will prove to be complementary and not substitutional. “The death of TV is clearly exaggerated,” she told the London audience.
Bloomberg 7 December 2017
Claire Enders was quoted in an article on the Fox-Disney deal. Disney, the world’s largest entertainment company, is in talks to buy Fox assets in a deal that could approach $50 billion or more. Besides, James Murdoch, Fox’s chief executive officer, could move to Disney if offered a senior role there after a deal. That possibility evokes strong responses from admirers and detractors of the Murdochs and their reign over the Fox media empire. Claire said “there is no doubt Bob Iger admires James, and Disney’s single biggest international relationship is with Sky”.
The Drum 7 December 2017
Matti Littunen was quoted in an article on YouTube’s ongoing brand safety issues, which have thrust the media industry into crisis. In response to growing concerns around damaging ad placements, brands have been taking greater control over the way their inventory and demanding greater transparency from their partners, calling the role of the media agency into question. In fact, it seems that agencies have been bearing the brunt of the issues versus Google itself, which has seen little effect on its bottom line this year despite a number of high profile brands claiming to pull spend. Matti believes there's a shortage of brands "voting with their wallets", backed up by Google's claim that the scale of the issue it has had on YouTube was "relatively contained" throughout the year. He added that this race to the bottom is "begging for trouble", as it essentially opens brands up to fraud and bad ad placement.
BBC 4 December 2017
Claire Enders was quoted in an article on Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox which is reported to have resumed talks with Walt Disney over a sale of "most" of its business, including its Sky stake. Negotiations are said to include Fox's movie and cable networks and international divisions, including Sky. The rest of the group, which includes Fox News Channel, Fox broadcast network and its sports rights, are not believed to be up for sale. Claire said that the reported interest of Disney in Fox was "very credible". She said for a "huge conglomerate" like Disney, a deal focused on consolidation would be "very sensible", and allow it to save hundreds of millions of dollars though "combined efficiencies". But she said the talks would not be able to progress significantly ahead of a critical auction of UK Premier League rights early next year, which would potentially affect Sky's valuation.
Financial Times 4 December 2017
Claire Enders was quoted in an article on BT, which is heading into a critical auction of UK Premier League rights. The British telecoms group’s chief executive Gavin Patterson, is already raising the prospect of losing BT’s rights to Premier League games. He said the group’s ambition was to retain its position as a “strong number two” behind Sky in pay-TV sports. Claire said “These two companies have bid to kill and — if not that — fatally wound each other, and this behaviour has been visible in every major auction since 2012 and continues to this day”.
the Guardian 4 December 2017
Tom Harrington was quoted in an article on ITV, which is standing by The X Factor despite the current series of the singing competition delivering its lowest ever viewing figures. Bosses at ITV and Simon Cowell, whose entertainment company Syco is behind The X Factor, are understood to be pleased with the number of younger viewers that the show has attracted and the impact the acts have had in the iTunes download chart. Tom said that The X Factor’s overnight TV audience was down 22% on last year – when an average of 7 million people watch the final and that ITV would be “ruminating” about its performance. He added “When you consider that ITV don’t own the format, that they have The Voice coming to the channel from the BBC this year, which it does make, then X Factor starts to look expendable. ITV will be thinking that they can do better”.
The Independent 29 November 2017
Alice Enders was quoted in an article on Donald Trump’s attacks on CNN, which helped their revenues far more than his praise helped Fox News. Despite the President constantly tweeting his love of Fox News, the right-wing, unashamedly pro-Trump network suffered a 2 per cent drop in advertising revenue. Meanwhile The New York Times, the newspaper Mr Trump calls “failing” and “enemy of the people”, has announced it is gaining 100,000 subscribers a quarter, up from the pre-election growth rate of 23,000-33,000 new subscribers a quarter. Alice told The Independent: “These figures suggest the so-called ‘Trump bump’ is helping the media he attacks more than Fox News”. She explained that most media – whether leaning to the left or right – had grown thanks to the massive appetite for news generated by the 2016 election and Mr Trump’s hectic, drama-filled presidency. But Ms Enders said the Fox figures – the first year-on-year decrease in one of the big three US cable news networks since the 2016 election – might mean that the media outlets Mr Trump attacks are the ones benefiting the most. One potential reason for this, said Alice, was that in launching constant attacks on the “fake news” media, “Mr Trump is also giving an awful lot of free publicity to CNN. He’s effectively advertising CNN to people who don’t like Trump – and let’s not forget his approval ratings are incredibly low and have been declining. “In turn, the appeal of these news channels to advertisers is driven first and foremost by [the size of] their audiences.”
the Guardian 22 November 2017
Tom Harrington was quoted in an article on Amazon's $1bn bet on Lord of the Rings, which shows the scale of its TV ambition. However, Amazon must navigate its losses against a backdrop of below-par performance at its streaming business, where there have been too many multimillion-dollar failures. Consequently, Jeff Bezos, the company’s founder, announced a deal to make Lord of the Rings into a TV series. The mooted $1bn (£755m) cost – $250m for the rights, $750m to film six series, making it the most expensive TV show ever – illustrates the scale of Amazon’s ambition and Bezos’s growing frustration with the TV business. Tom said “buying Lord of The Rings is completely against their previous strategy. They are trying to buy their way out of their difficulties”.
Reuters 20 November 2017
Francois Godard was quoted in an article on Altice’s shares, which have fallen 12 percent on Friday. On Monday, Patrick Drahi, Altice’s founder, said that Altice would shift away from acquisitions towards debt reduction and customer satisfaction, but concerns that Altice may need to raise cash hit its shares. Francois said that while Altice’s update might reassure bondholders in the short-term, in the longer run the company still needed to improve its underlying performance in France. He added “bondholders will be more comfortable once they see that the French operational performance is getting better”.
Financial Times 20 November 2017
Francois Godard was quoted in an article on Altice’s shares, which have almost halved in the past few weeks after poor third-quarter results were compounded by worries over its high levels of debt. In 2014, Altice acquired SFR, which still accounts for almost half of its revenues. This deal making has left Altice saddled with about €51bn of debt, much larger than the company’s €15bn market capitalisation and more than five times its earnings before interest, taxes, amortisation and depreciation. Investors want to see that Altice can manage the businesses that it has expensively assembled — particularly in France, its largest market. Francois said “besides sustaining network deployments, to turn around SFR, Altice needs to abandon short-term fixes, invest in its workforce and customer service and differentiate through valuable innovation — in other words the opposite of the model followed so far”.
OpenDemocracy 17 November 2017
Alice Enders was quoted in an article on the Sky/Fox bid. This week, the CMA has published a transcript of its first “expert round table” on the bid: that on media plurality (another on broadcasting standards will follow shortly). The review by the Competition and Markets Authority (the UK’s senior competition regulator) is what is known as stage 2 of the inquiry into this proposed merger, triggered by Karen Bradley, in September, after several months of scrutiny by the media regulator, Ofcom, whose inquiry was requested by Bradley, using her powers under the 2002 Act – media plurality being the only part of competition oversight of UK transactions of this size not reserved for the EU authorities. During the first expert round table Stewart Purvis, offered his own “theory of Murdoch”: the establishment of a right-of-centre broadsheet newspaper, alongside a raucous popular tabloid and an opinionated news channel – a pattern he identified in the US and in Australia, and now potentially in the UK. Alice gently deflated this conceit, pointing out that Sky in the UK is a family-friendly platform business, very different from Fox News in the US, which is primarily dependent on advertising revenue.
Wired 15 November 2017
Joseph Evans was quoted in an article on Uber, who had seemingly struck a deal with an investment group led in part by Japan's SoftBank. The deal, which would have seen SoftBank take a stake in Uber, seemed all-but-confirmed. Joseph said that this initial failure to secure investment is troubling for the company. He added “Uber being unable to lock down some of the easiest money in the world right now is a very worrying sign.”