Publications

Format: Dec 2017
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Sector(s) Datesort ascending
21CF/Sky transaction heads to the CMA

21CF’s bid for 100% ownership of Sky has been referred for a Phase 2 investigation to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which will decide by 6 March 2018

Third parties Avaaz and Ed Miliband MP complain of the influence of the Murdoch Family Trust (MFT) and family members over the UK’s news agenda and political process 

A remedy could insulate Sky News from this influence. The offer of a Sky News Editorial Board at Phase 1 was refused. Third parties will ensure the debate in Phase 2 is very lively

  • 21st Century Fox
  • Ofcom
  • Sky
21CF Sky specific emails, Media, TV 19 October 2017
Google's golden age of search

Google has beaten Facebook in mobile revenue growth, and competes successfully in retail search with Amazon

Intelligent user interfaces based on machine learning have become a core competitive strength, with social and messaging the main remaining weak points

Rising political pressure due to Google’s growing scale and influence is now a bigger concern than commercial risk, as the threat of regulatory intervention limits strategic options in partnerships, M&A and integration

  • Amazon
  • Apple
  • Facebook
  • Google
Media, Technology 19 October 2017
Sky Q1 2017/18 results: Solid quarter, but challenges remain

Sky made a strong start to fiscal 2018, with improved customer net adds across each of its markets versus the previous quarter, as well as group revenue growth at 5%

Operating profits switched back to growth, after the negative Premier League effect annualised out, with it now settled at the full cost of £1.4 billion per year. EBITDA growth hit 11%, or 15% excluding the effect of UK mobile and the Spanish OTT launch

Against the backdrop of continued uncertainty around the UK advertising market, attention has turned to the upcoming Premier League auction, though we think it unlikely that digital players will cause disruption

  • Sky
Media, TV, UK Media 16 October 2017
Supply of news in the UK

Since Communications Act 2003, the number of national news outlets supplied on broadcast and in print has been stable. Adoption of multi-channel TV, supported by Freeview, has augmented the number of homes accessing on a free-to-air basis five "all news" channels (BBC News, BBC Parliament, Sky News, CNN, Russia Today), with many more all news channels served on pay-TV platforms

Original news production has been transformed by digital tools and Twitter occupies the centre of the journalism ecosystem. Jobs devoted to news production are in recovery, although mask a decline in newspapers to the benefit of online mainly

Expansion of fixed-line broadband and, more recently, consumer adoption of mobile broadband and connected devices, have made the internet a platform for the supply of and consumption of all news services. Broadcasters serve eponymous text-based websites, all newspapers serve websites, and native news outlets have entered the market due to low barriers to entry. Prominent native brands in the political genre include Buzzfeed, HuffPost and Politico

Internet, Media, UK Media 10 October 2017
News and Facebook

Even though Facebook is not a producer of news, 6.5 million UK internet users claim to mainly source their news from the platform. Posts and shares by friends in the user's network, in the context of Facebook's algorithm, determine the order of stories in the personalised News Feed, removing the control of the news agenda that publishers have for their websites

Premium publishers operating a paywall (The Times, The Financial Times) have a lower key approach to Facebook than publishers generating advertising revenue from referral traffic to their websites or from on-platform consumption of Instant Articles. The latter will seek to stimulate social media engagement, optimising stories through attention-grabbing headlines, and installing Facebook’s share and like buttons on their websites

Case studies of the news stories that were prominent on Facebook (measured by likes, comments and shares) in the periods leading up to the Brexit Referendum and General Election 2017 votes respectively demonstrate that newspaper brands (the Express for Brexit, and The Guardian for the General Election) achieved the highest reach on Facebook during these periods, despite being ranked below other news brands (BBC in particular) in terms of traffic to their websites

  • 21st Century Fox
  • BBC
  • Channel 4
  • DMGT
  • Facebook
  • Five
  • Google
  • Guardian Media Group
  • Independent Print Ltd
  • Johnston Press
  • New York Times
  • News Corp
  • News UK
  • Sky
  • Telegraph Media Group
  • Trinity Mirror
  • Twitter
  • Vice Media
  • YouTube
21CF Sky specific emails, Media, Public Policy, Technology, TV, UK Media 10 October 2017
US ISPs hail the end of online privacy rules

The Federal Communications Commission’s Privacy Order (FCC) was overturned by the Senate, clearing the way for ISPs to ramp up consumer data-driven advertising revenue

While Google and Facebook dominate digital advertising in the US as in other markets, the US is alone in removing regulatory barriers to ISPs taking a piece of the pie

US ISPs now have a self-regulatory regime for consumer rights on transparency, security and data breaches; but in the UK and EU, privacy advocates prefer enforceable rights

  • Cable & Wireless
  • Facebook
  • Google
Internet, Media, Mobile, Telecoms 9 October 2017
Consumer magazine publishing, Part two: The power of brands and industry innovation

In a challenging digital marketplace, publishers face a crisis of purpose. To navigate the turbulent seas, publishers must invest more in their brands and the industry as a whole must innovate

Consumer engagement, previously held by magazines, has sailed to social media where young influencers across Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat challenge established norms of content discovery and curation

Magazines are more heterogeneous than is commonly assumed, and strength lies in a distinctive brand. To right the course, we recommend the industry carry out bespoke reviews that outline brand-specific audiences, use-cases and revenue solutions, and exploit systematic audience data to optimise all brand manifestations - with enhanced marketing income a secondary benefit

  • Facebook
  • Google
Internet, Media, Mobile, UK Media 6 October 2017
Consumer magazine publishing, Part one: The power of brands and industry collaboration

Evidence is mounting that the consumer magazine market is reaching an existential threshold. In this two-part overview of the UK consumer magazine marketplace we address the need for industry collaboration and brand innovation.

The print market is seeing sector-wide declines and the real structural fallout has only just begun; a supply chain review is urgently required.

Magazine brands lack a unique selling point in online advertising, and although long-disastrous ad tech trends may be finally turning in favour of premium publishers, developing must-have consumer services remains the key.

  • Facebook
  • Google
  • News UK
Internet, Media, UK Media 5 October 2017
UK mobile market Q2 2017: Brief holiday

Mobile service revenue growth continued to improve on a reported basis, but most of this improvement came from a significant dip in the MTR cut drag. EE remained the leader in terms of service revenue growth, with both the strongest ARPU growth and robust contract net adds

The quarter also benefited from the current round of in-contract price increases, which were more widespread and at a higher level than last year, and from a brief holiday in the impact of roaming cut regulation, the impact of which will strongly reverse in Q3 as ‘free roaming’ impacts the whole quarter at the same time as mobile users take their actual holidays

Recent spectrum announcements have far from clarified the auction outlook, with Ofcom deciding on a more restrictive spectrum cap than its initial views but both H3G and EE appealing its decision. It will likely be some time before all 5G spectrum auction rules are resolved, let alone actually holding the auctions or building the networks

  • EE
  • Hutchison 3G
  • O2
  • Vodafone
Mobile, Telecoms, Vodafone 3 October 2017
European mobile in Q2 2017: Rare growth spike

European mobile service revenue growth witnessed a rare growth spike this quarter, rising to 0.5%, likely due in large part to the reduced impact this quarter from the European roaming cut regulation, but also helped by a slight softening of MTR cuts and continued ‘more-for-more’ price increases

This roaming regulation holiday will end next quarter and the full impact of ‘free roaming’ will be felt, thus the spike in mobile service revenue growth is likely to more-than-reverse

What is likely to prove lasting is the zero-rated data offers introduced in several markets in Q2, which we expect to see more of given their reported success at improving ARPUs

  • EE
  • France Telecom
  • Hutchison 3G
  • Iliad
  • Orange
  • SFR
  • T-Mobile
  • Telecom Italia
  • Telefonica
  • Vodafone
Non-UK Media, Non-UK Telecoms, Media, Mobile, Non UK Media, Technology, Telecoms, UK Media 3 October 2017
Netflix's edge over broadcasters

The development and utilisation of streaming technologies has allowed major SVODs, such as Netflix and Amazon, to attain a growing proportion of video viewing

However, tech is just one of the advantages held by these services: plateauing content expenditure, the inability to retain IP and inconsistent regulatory regimes hamper the efforts of the UK’s public service broadcasters

The localised nature of audience tastes, as well as the diversity of PSB offerings remain a bulwark to aid in the retention of relevance but content spend cannot lag

  • Amazon
  • BBC
  • Channel 4
  • ITV
  • Netflix
  • Viacom
Media, TV 20 September 2017
Augmented reality: Apple’s next 10-year bet

Through innovations in processing, connectivity and cameras, Apple’s new device lineup dispels fears that the importance of integrated, profitable mobile hardware is in terminal decline

With the broadest range of iPhone price points ever, Apple is confidently balancing between profits and growing the valuable installed base

Apple’s long way to an AR future is now well paved, but a weakness in mapping could prove to be an Achilles heel

  • Apple
  • Google
  • Samsung
  • Walt Disney
Media, Technology, Telecoms 20 September 2017
Global recorded music forecasts 2017-21

For the second consecutive year, the global recorded music industry body IFPI reported rising trade revenues, growing 5.9% to reach $15.6 billion in 2016

Our forecasts supplement IFPI’s trade revenue data with richer national-level consumer expenditure data from local bodies in core markets, and project CAGR of 2.3% to 2021, tapering off as streaming approaches maturity

This fairly modest topline growth for global recorded music streaming trade revenues is the product of our judgement that the marketplace remains awash with free music. Streaming trade revenue growth could be higher still if the industry finds a solution to piracy through technological or regulatory means, obviating the need for the ad-funded compromise

  • Amazon
  • Apple
  • Google
  • Sony
  • Spotify
  • Vivendi
  • YouTube
Media, Music and Radio, Technology 11 September 2017
Internet Trends H1 2017: Fruits of the mobile revolution

With smartphones in the pockets of 3/4 of the UK population, and accounting for over half of all online minutes, the mobile revolution is in its final stages, allowing us to survey its impact

As the number of social media users continues growing, untapped older demographics and Instagram help the Facebook suite of apps grow in the UK, but Snapchat is the social media app of choice for UK teens

News publishers face issues with brand attribution as social media platforms overtake search as the main news aggregators online, while small UK video publishers have become unlikely winners in a global market for soft news, infotainment and gags that dominate social video

 

  • Apple
  • BBC
  • Facebook
  • Google
  • Twitter
Internet, Media, Mobile, Technology 5 September 2017
Voicing concerns: virtual assistants and the media

Voice, and the smart virtual assistants that power voice interfaces, will be a key transformative force over the next five years

Any business providing content or services via digital means is potentially affected, as these virtual assistants promise a single front end for all digital services, representing an extraordinary concentration of control over discovery, delivery and data

Media businesses will clearly be affected. But there is an opportunity for them right now to influence the assistant providers to their advantage, a window that will not stay open forever

  • Amazon
  • BBC
  • Google
  • Samsung
  • Sky
Internet, Media, Technology, TV 23 August 2017
UK broadband, telephony and pay TV trends Q2 2017: Dead cat bounce?

UK residential communications market revenue growth bounced up to 3.6% in Q2, a full 1.4ppt improvement on the previous quarter and reversing the downwards trend of the previous two quarters. However, this was entirely driven by price rises at BT and Sky, with the ongoing market volume growth decline continuing at pace

In competitive terms, TalkTalk was the only operator able to improve its broadband net adds on a year earlier, and Virgin Media was solid with only a modest decline, leaving BT and Sky shouldering the worst of the slowdown, albeit with neither company doing particularly poorly given the market context

New customer pricing remains tight, with Virgin Media in particular becoming more competitive. Looking forward, we expect volumes to continue to slow, and for the pricing boost enjoyed in Q2 to largely drop out next quarter, leading to a renewed revenue growth slowdown

  • BT
  • Liberty Global
  • Sky
  • TalkTalk
  • Virgin Media
Fixed Line, Media, Telecoms, UK Media 23 August 2017
Channel 4: relocation and dislocation

Channel 4 revenues and content spend hit record levels in 2016, but the company faces a declining TV advertising market in 2017 due to a weaker economy and competition

The company’s ability to deliver its unique remit to audiences and producers is also under pressure from Government proposals to move staff outside London

Because Channel 4 can only commission, a move will not stimulate a creative cluster. Risks to the remit include the loss of talent and lower content spend due to higher opex 

  • BBC
  • Channel 4
  • ITV
Media, TV, UK Media 16 August 2017
News, disinformation and Facebook

Facebook content shares suggest that misinformation had broad reach during both US and UK political campaigns, but outright fake news was rare, particularly in the UK 

Mis- and disinformation by both established and new publishers was distributed on Facebook, but monetisation took place predominantly off-site, and content was distributed by a wide range of search and social platforms 

Facebook has acted to limit the reach of disinformation, but can’t and shouldn’t be expected to do so alone as digital news distribution touches on complex questions including information and democracy, media literacy and heterogeneous cultural and social norms

  • Facebook
  • Independent Print Ltd
  • Johnston Press
  • New York Times
  • News Corp
  • Telegraph Media Group
  • Trinity Mirror
Media, Technology 16 August 2017
Virgin Media Q2 2017 results: Mixed quarter, but still the fastest

Virgin Media’s subscriber figures in Q2 were a little mixed, with total homes and broadband figures weaker than a year earlier, but pay TV much stronger. ARPU growth fell though, largely due to price increase timing effects, leading to a modest dip in revenue growth

Project Lightning premises passed during the quarter rose to 127k, making at least some progress towards upping its run-rate after changing its roll-out management team and approach, the company declined to give indications of how this will evolve

The broader market context is still one of slowing broadband volume growth, and Virgin Media continues to take market share, being the fastest growing of the ‘big 4’ in both subscriber and RGU volumes

  • Liberty Global
  • Virgin Media
Fixed Line, Media, Mobile, Telecoms, UK Media 15 August 2017
BT Q1 2017/18 results: Back to growth (for now at least)

BT Group revenue returned to growth, at least temporarily, helped by overlapping price rises in consumer, one-off regulated price cuts on leased lines annualising out, and mobile handset sales improving

Regulatory news was unusually positive, with Openreach taking the initiative on FTTP, and BT winning an appeal against damaging leased line regulation, which may end up being significantly eased

BT continues to do well in consumer and struggle in business markets, with the ongoing deceleration in the consumer broadband market the main cloud on the horizon

 

  • BT
  • EE
Fixed Line, Media, Mobile, Telecoms, UK Media 9 August 2017

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