The Times 15 February 2018
James Barford was quoted in an article on the Premier League’s British broadcasting revenue which is set to fall after a huge jump for the previous rights deal. With five of seven packages sold for £4.46 billion, down from a total bill of £5.14 billion in 2015, the rivalry between the bidders Sky and BT has calmed. This year’s auction took place as the companies faced other crucial issues, with Sky preparing for a takeover and BT recovering from an accounting scandal while grappling with a £14 billion pensions deficit. For BT, the stakes were equally high. The company is so far paying about 8 per cent less for all its matches this time round, but could yet spend more by winning the remaining packages. The outcome of the auction for BT received a mixed response among analysts. James said “It’s a small saving [overall] but they’ve only got one package. They might end up paying a bit more”.
Daily Mail 15 February 2018
Julian Aquilina was quoted in an article on the battle for the Premier League football rights, where Sky has emerged as the big winner sparking fresh criticism of BT's expensive foray into sports broadcasting. While Sky slashed the amount it pays per match, arch-rival BT is paying more. The blunder piles fresh pressure on Gavin Patterson, BT's embattled boss, who has overseen a £5billion spending spree on sport. Yesterday it insisted it had 'remained financially disciplined' in the Premier League rights auction, paying £885million for 32 matches per season – £9.2million per game. Julian said “some people will be pleased BT has not increased its spend, but it does look like they have missed an opportunity to reduce their costs per game. It's also worth remembering Sky could not actually be allowed to win the package BT won, and it's not clear who else would have come in with a bid for it”.
AFP Sport 15 February 2018
Julian Aquilina was quoted in an article on the results of the Premier League auction. The price paid per Premier League game has dropped from £10.2 million to £9.3 million for the time being following the latest deal. Sky held on to its position as the main broadcaster of live matches, claiming four of the seven available packages for 2019-2022, with BT taking the other package sold so far at a total combined cost of £4.46 billion ($6.16 billion). Sky's share price rose three percent on Wednesday after boasting how the new deal sees them paying 16 percent less per game than the previous agreement for their 128 games. Julian said "It is excellent news for Sky. Neither player was pushed to position themselves to bid for all the packages like the last time. They can still offer all the packages to their customers presuming no third party wins the other two packages".
The Drum 14 February 2018
Matti Littunen was quoted in an article on Keith Weed, Unilever’s chief marketing officer, who set to put the technology giants – Facebook and Google - on notice in a speech on Monday to major advertisers, media groups and technology companies at the annual Interactive Advertising Bureau conference. Unilever, the world’s second-biggest marketing spender, is threatening to pull its advertising from digital platforms such as Google and Facebook if they “create division”, foster hate or fail to protect children. Speaking to The Drum after Weed's speech yesterday, Matti suggested there wasn't a "one-size-fits-all" approach to addressing transparency and that not all brands are baiting with their marketing spend as. He said "Some big brands have indeed pulled a lot of spend from some of the online platforms, but other brands who are less concerned about the PR or have a different kind of business model have stepped in and said 'if they're moving budget then there's an opportunity for us to move into this space'. So it shows that there is much to be done before the whole industry is committed to the same kind of standards [as Unilever and P&G]".
Bloomberg 13 February 2018
Claire Enders was quoted in an article on the reasons behind Comcast interest in pursuing Fox assets. Comcast is the largest cable provider in the U.S. and the Justice Department has shown it’s resistant to approving deals between big TV distributors and programmers with its attempt to prevent AT&T’s $85.4 billion purchase of Time Warner Inc. A tie-up with Fox would combine Fox’s pay-TV channels like FX and National Geographic with Comcast’s NBCUniversal cable channels like Syfy and Bravo.
Claire said that after Comcast’s attempt to acquire Time Warner Cable Inc. in 2015 was blocked by regulators, it may not want to run the risk of government resistance again with Fox in the U.S.. Comcast also had a “very demanding” review over the acquisition of NBCUniversal. She said “Comcast has fewer hurdles to clear in Europe, but my heavens, the U.S. situation would be pretty difficult”.
Bloomberg 12 February 2018
Alice Enders was quoted in an article on 21st Century Fox which has offered a series of steps to “guarantee” the editorial independence of Sky News to assuage concerns raised by the UK’s competition watchdog over the company’s bid to take full control of the pan-European broadcaster Sky. Given opposition from third parties to Fox’s approach of behavioural remedies, Alice said that the CMA review is still on a ‘knife-edge’. Adding that “The CMA has to decide whether to go with the politicians and Avaaz and prohibit the merger, or go with Fox and accept behavioural undertakings”.
Hollywood Reporter 8 February 2018
James Barford was quoted in an article on the English Soccer Rights Auction. The most-watched soccer league in the world that features teams such as Manchester City, Manchester United, London clubs Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham, is about to kick off its latest U.K. TV rights auction, which is expected to set a new all-time record for the price paid for its matches. But observers expect a smaller increase for the latest three-year rights deals starting with the 2019-20 season after the last two rights deals boosted the overall price tag by 70 percent. And new suitors, led by Amazon, are understood to have been considering competing for some of the rights in the auction that is set to kick off this week. BT in the last auction retained two packages with 42 matches per season for $1.46 billion, while Sky got the rights to 126 games per season for $6.37 billion. That made the overall deal worth more than $7.8 billion (5.14 billion pounds), at the time. This time, the Premier League is expecting another increase, but analysts expect the bidders to stick to being cautious what they offer to pay. James said "the loss-making nature of both Sky and BT’s sports businesses makes it difficult for them to justify expansion or further hyperinflation. Indeed, reduced viewing figures, in part driven by growing live-streaming piracy, means that the Premier League rights’ fundamental value is falling, not rising".
Bloomberg 26 January 2018
Claire Enders was quoted in an article on Lachlan Murdoch and his role in the “new Fox”. Today, Lachlan is the subject of more speculation in media circles than he ever was before. While his father, now 86, has groomed him for the top job, Lachlan has never independently run anything as big and complicated as what is being billed as the new Fox. He now seems all but certain to assume the helm after his brother, current Fox CEO James Murdoch, sees through a $52.4 billion asset sale to Walt Disney Co. over the next 12 to 18 months. The question - for the global media and investors alike - is what will happen then. Claire said “It is very hard to judge him because he has not made major executive decisions. His capacities have not been tested as much as those of James”.
Digiday 25 January 2018
Alice Pickthall was quoted in an article on how The Guardian put itself on the path to profits. After two battle-weary years in which The Guardian cut costs and halved losses, the publisher is starting to turn a corner. Today, The Guardian, coming off a redesign, can confidently say it is on firmer footing than it has been in years. The Guardian has halved its operating losses compared to two years ago, now looking at breaking even by 2019. Perhaps most critically, it no longer relies on advertising for the majority of its revenue. Where others like The New York Times and The New Yorker have turned to the trusty paywall, the Guardian took a philanthropic route, asking readers for one-off donations and paid memberships. So far, that decision is paying off. Alice said “The Guardian has undoubtedly exceeded everyone’s expectations. In the long term, they need to find more ways to monetize their audience than just charity, but committed digital subscribers, not just supporters”.
The Drum 25 January 2018
Alice Enders was quoted in an article on how should marketers react to the death of Queen Elizabeth. The last time a monarch died, the detritus of war was still hanging over the country. Brands played an incredibly minor role in society compared to now and there is no evidence that any made mention of King George’s death at all. This time around, things will be very different – not just in terms of emotional reaction, but the way in which this reaction and the news itself will be communicated. The consensus is that Royal Warrant holder brands will react differently to those without a crest. It’s unlikely that campaigns from entire sectors will be pulled like they were following the news of Diana's death, however TV advertising will certainly be affected. Alice said “these are called special events in the history of the news and they displace ordinary programming and associated marketing messages. If the event is joyful, like a royal wedding, it's a boon for audiences and the advertisers that buy slots. If the event is sombre, it will cut out advertising as it's very hard to strike the right note. And audiences don't like interruptions anyway in these ceremonies."
Mirror 24 January 2018
Tom Harrington was quoted in an article on the rise of Netflix. This weed The US company’s stock market value topped $100billion (£71billion) this week as customer numbers soared to more than 117 million in over 190 countries – watching 140 million hours of TV shows and movies a day. Tom said “it’s quite remarkable it will have been just five years since Netflix released its first major original series. Back then, there were 30 million subscribers in the US and a million in the UK, and many questioned why big names would be making a TV show that would only screen on the internet. Now there are around 118 million subscribers worldwide and Netflix is set to spend up to £5.7billion on its library of content in 2018. To put it in perspective, the BBC last year had just £1.7billion to spend on its TV programmes”.
Financial Times 24 January 2018
Claire Enders was quoted in an article on the Sky-Fox deal. The Competition and Markets Authority, the UK regulator scrutinising the latest deal, provisionally ruled on Tuesday that the offer by Mr Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox for shares it does not own in Sky would give him too much influence in the UK media market. Analysts, however, still expect the deal to be approved. This is because of the remedies outlined by the CMA, which include the sale or divestiture of Sky News and “firewall” remedies that would keep management and control of Sky News separate from the Murdoch family. Claire agrees, and said “the CMA has fashioned something that can easily be removed. It’s a flexible set of proposals”.
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”.