Publications

Format: Dec 2017
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Sector(s) Datesort ascending
UK mobile market Q4 2016 - Nearly back to growth

UK mobile service revenue growth was -0.1% in Q4, a 0.6ppt improvement from the previous quarter. This was helped by some modest price firming, continued strong data growth, and some inflation in handset prices

EE was the strongest growing operator after being the weakest just 12 months ago, with its efforts to improve customer service, network performance and perceptions of network performance starting to pay off. H3G had a strong H2, with strong customer additions while not sacrificing ARPU, although it is still clearly taking steps to manage capacity demand. O2 had another solid performance with a modest improvement in service revenue growth, and Vodafone suffered from weak ARPU primarily due to pricing pressure in the business market

The outlook for market service revenue growth is fairly positive, with ARPU-enhancing pricing moves in evidence, supported by continuing strong data volume growth, and existing customer price increases due to take effect from Q2 2017

  • EE
  • Hutchison 3G
  • O2
  • Vodafone
Mobile, Telecoms, Vodafone 13 April 2017
French election: High tide of populism receding?

France’s first round of the presidential election on 23 April looks set to deliver a run-off on 6 May between nationalist Marine Le Pen and pro-EU, pro-NATO reformer Emmanuel Macron, who holds a 20 point lead in that contest – a much higher margin than last year’s mistaken projections for Clinton and Remain

Should Mr. Macron become president and win a majority in the June parliamentary elections, a challenge for nascent party En Marche!, his reformist platform would tackle France’s main economic issue: low employment. The anticipated privatisation of Orange could launch a burst of media and telecom M&A 

A defeat of Marine Le Pen and a new reformist French government could relaunch the partnership with Germany, making the EU more confident in its future, and improving auspices for a sensible Brexit

  • Orange
Media, Public Policy, Telecoms 12 April 2017
Spotify secures UMG royalty discount

As Spotify wavers around the breakeven point, the deal with UMG is good news for royalty costs and thus for the likely advent of the IPO rumoured for autumn 2017

Royalty costs will reduce if Spotify reaches the subscriber growth targets that have been agreed – these have not been disclosed, so are hard to track

Question marks persist over whether a two-week optional windowing of new releases on the premium tier will significantly drive upgrades from the free tier

  • Apple
  • Spotify
  • Vivendi
Media, Music and Radio, Technology 11 April 2017
Article 50 triggers Brexit in 2019

The UK intends to exit the EU on 29 March 2019 and will submit the hoped-for agreement on a new strategic partnership with the EU to a vote in Parliament

The EU and the UK agree to seek an early settlement on the rights of 4 million nationals and the Irish border. Incentives diverge on the size of the UK’s Brexit bill

Unless a withdrawal agreement is reached, the EU will balk at starting talks on the UK’s desired free trade agreement (FTA), making a hard Brexit more likely than not

Brexit, Media 30 March 2017
Video viewing forecasts to 2026

2016 was yet another year in which we saw big changes in the UK’s video consumption habits amongst the under-45s, with little let up in the decline of traditional broadcast linear TV viewing for the younger age groups

Online video-on-demand services will continue to grow, partly at the expense of traditional TV audiences. We also expect the overall volume of viewing to rise, mainly due to wider production of and access to short-form content

Despite these changes, conventional broadcasters look to be strong for years to come—we estimate they will still account for 80% of all video viewing in 2026

Media, TV, UK Media 23 March 2017
YouTube, programmatic and brand safety

Media reports of ads by top brands appearing next to extremist content on YouTube have surprised advertisers and led to a barrage of criticism from other media companies, agencies and the UK government

Despite several advertisers pausing spend, the revenue impact for Google is likely to be small in the short term – but the debate is a symptom of ongoing tension between “frenemies”: large agencies and Google & Facebook 

By urging Google alone to educate display advertisers and filter campaigns, agencies risk ceding more of their client relationship to the advertising giant, while calls for the platform to make all editorial judgements on political content are inappropriate

  • Google
  • YouTube
Media, Public Policy, Technology, TV 23 March 2017
21CF and the bid for Sky: state of play

Secretary of State Karen Bradley has intervened on two UK public interest grounds in 21CF’s bid for 100% ownership of Sky: media plurality, as in 2010, and a commitment to broadcasting standards, new in 2017

Ofcom will assess any implications of 21CF’s full control of Sky on whether it is ‘fit and proper’ to hold a broadcast licence, reporting back on 16 May

Undertakings are a live issue in the 2016 bid, notably to protect the editorial independence of Sky News, noting the bid faces determined opposition from certain quarters

  • 21st Century Fox
  • BT
  • News Corp
  • Ofcom
  • Sky
Media, TV 21 March 2017
UK broadband, telephony and pay TV trends Q4 2016: Under pressure

UK residential communications market revenue growth fell to 3.3% in Q4, from 5.4% in the previous quarter. The slowdown was mainly caused by BT’s overlapping price rise dropping out, but there was also ARPU weakness at Sky (due to price rise timings) and TalkTalk (due to re-contracting customers)

Volume growth in the core three products continued its decline, with broadband reaching saturation, line rental suffering from Virgin’s broadband solo offering and pay-lite TV offers losing momentum. Looking forward, recent and upcoming price increases should allow some recovery from current revenue growth levels

However, competitive pressures are increasing. Virgin Media’s network extension continues to accelerate, TalkTalk is attempting to stabilise its base and new customer pricing has fallen substantially since December 2016 – causing a dramatic disparity in new/existing customer pricing. The higher churn and/or reduced ARPU this is likely to cause, combined with slowing market volumes, indicate that market revenue growth is unlikely to recover to the 5-6% it enjoyed for most of 2015 and 2016

 

  • BT
  • Sky
  • TalkTalk
  • Virgin Media
Fixed Line, Media, Telecoms 16 March 2017
360 and Virtual Reality: a new angle for video entertainment

The temporary cool-off in hype around VR following a very buzzy 2016 is not reducing the flow of investment and talent into the industry, notably in video production utilising 360Video technology; setting the stage for the development of a truly new entertainment medium

Fully immersive interactive worlds will continue to be the mainstay of the video games industry, while video entertainment will exist in a multi-track environment, with some genres (news, documentaries , natural history) making 360Video mainstream well before long-form narrative-driven entertainment

2017 will still be a challenging year for consumer device VR roll-out and mass market adoption; Oculus, Google, and Sony continue to seed the market, providing large scale funding and equipment directly to developers and content producers

 

 

  • Apple
  • Facebook
  • Google
  • HTC
  • NBC Universal
  • Samsung
  • Sony
  • Walt Disney
Media, Technology, Telecoms, TV 16 March 2017
BT tightens grip on Champions League TV

The latest auction of UEFA Champions League televised UK rights has seen further high 32% inflation as BT renewed its ownership for the three seasons from 2018/19 for an annual payment of £394 million

Although BT annual payments are to increase by £95 million from 2018/19, the new contract offers added commercial attractions, though we expect BT’s efforts to monetise them will fall some way short of the cost increase

However, BT had to win to cement its position against Sky as a strong number two in UK premium pay TV and we expect weaker future inflation of premium football rights. For Sky followers, the focus is now on the UEFA auctions in Germany and Italy, where the outcome is far from certain

  • BT
  • ITV
  • Sky
Media, TV 15 March 2017
How is TV catering for its oldest and most loyal audience?

Linear television's audience is ageing; with the drop in viewing by younger demographics, consistent viewership by the over 65s has seen them increase their share of total viewing since 2010 from 24% to 31%

The difficulties and efforts to re-engage with the younger cohorts are well documented. But what of the resilient, older group that forms the stable core of the television audience?

Conspicuous attempts are being made to create specific shows targeted at the oldest viewers, but outside of limited categories, creating relevant programming may be more difficult than expected

  • BBC
  • Channel 4
  • ITV
Media, TV 14 March 2017
“ITV for everyone”: ITV FY 2016 results

2016 proved a mixed year for ITV as sizeable falls in TV spot advertising and Studios US revenues were offset by continuing strong growth in Online, Pay & Interactive and ITV Studios, while ITV ended the year with a very healthy balance sheet

As the economy and advertising enter testing times, diversification may not only have helped reduce ITV’s reliance on this highly volatile income stream, but also the growth of ITV Studios may just be starting to pay off in terms of reversing the decline in ITV Main audience share  

Looking ahead, the strategic focus of ITV has shifted, now placing greater emphasis on expanding ITV content distribution at home and abroad across multiple platforms, all age groups, and growing new revenue streams, especially pay, to extract added value from its growing content assets

  • ITV
Media, TV 9 March 2017
The connected evolution of UK TV platforms

The past 14 months have seen a flurry of activity from the major UK television platforms, with all but one releasing a revamped version of their television offering; a neccessary reaction to the rise of VOD consumption and the threat this poses to traditional models

The result is 'connected' offerings, with the major players aiming to exploit the impact of this technology by seamlessly integrating on-demand capabilities, and in doing so mitigate the further shockwaves resulting from its emergence

No offering is likely to single-handedly alter the current subscriber landscape radically; with the pay platforms' each taking a unique—and to a degree—entrenched path that affirms its core consumer base, the greatest shifting of sands will likely come from changes in consumer trends or content quality

 

  • BT
  • Freesat
  • Freeview
  • Sky
  • TalkTalk
  • Virgin Media
Media, Telecoms, TV 8 March 2017
Mobile World Congress: a look at tech & media

Smartphone hardware did not take centre stage at the year’s premier mobile industry event in Barcelona, with license-built Nokias generating as much excitement as flagship smartphones from HTC, Sony and Samsung

In VR, AR and IoT, the most impressive signs of progress were under the hood rather than in flashy device announcements – as the actual use cases become more specific, so does hardware and software

Concrete business applications around the personal data generated by connected mobile devices was a major theme, with new types of automation and personalisation in services and media – and a growing market for security

  • Apple
  • Google
Media, Mobile, Technology, TV 7 March 2017
Prophets before profits: Snap goes public

Snap is going public: its filing shows widening losses and slowing user growth, calling into question its ability to reach profitability and justify the ~$20 billion valuation it is seeking

Long term, the company hopes to capture the large brand advertising budgets it expects will leave TV as linear viewing declines. But how it plans to do so is unclear, as it has shown little interest in connected TVs, and the ad model for augmented reality – Snap’s focus – is a long way off

Most of all, investors are being asked to trust in the ability of Snap’s founders – who will retain full control of the company – to continually innovate products which will attract users and advertisers

  • Facebook
  • Google
  • Netflix
Non-UK Media, Internet, Media, Mobile, Non UK Media, Technology 1 March 2017
Fashion's new look: digital sets new trends

Fashion underpins the growth of ecommerce; online took a 14% share of all fashion retail in the UK last year and is set to rise further, challenging the economics of physical retail 

Mobile is a key driver, it is changing research and shopping habits, and in turn affecting supplier product cycles, merchandising and marketing strategies 

Social media has disrupted the traditional shopping funnel, changing how trends and styles proliferate and shifting the sites of authority and influence in a £66 billion sector

  • Amazon
  • Facebook
  • Google
  • Twitter
Internet, Media, Mobile, Technology 28 February 2017
Amazon’s ad business: shoppers for sale

Amazon’s marketing services bring in a growing stream of direct, high-margin revenue, but their main role is still in supporting vendor partnerships

Amazon uses customer profile data to profit from its own media and that of others, illustrating the value of a direct customer relationship in online advertising

In the future, Amazon’s moves into video content and voice interfaces are likely to significantly expand ad inventory, but maintaining the trust of shoppers is not straightforward

  • Amazon
  • Facebook
  • Google
Media, Mobile, Technology, TV 27 February 2017
Virgin Media Q4 2016 results: Accelerated build, delayed benefits

Virgin Media successfully ramped up its network extension in Q4, passing more than double the homes in the previous quarter, and above the rate required to meet 2017 expectations

Net customer additions were, however, relatively weak, entirely due to extra churn caused by the price increase implemented in the quarter. The price increase’s effect on ARPU and revenue growth was muted by ARPU discounting for new customers, leaving revenue growth broadly unchanged

Subscriber growth has already improved in early 2017, and is likely to continue to improve through the year. The discounted ARPU impact will be more sustained, but robust revenue growth is still likely throughout the year

  • Liberty Global
  • Virgin Media
Fixed Line, Media, Telecoms, UK Media 24 February 2017
21st Century Fox: Unfinished business with Sky

21st Century Fox’s (21CF) second attempt to acquire Sky comes at a time when the TV world faces mounting online pressure, accompanied by erosion of territorial boundaries in an increasingly global marketplace 

Despite some investor concerns about Sky’s ability to deliver its operating targets over the next five years, we consider the underlying business to be sound and starting to show benefits that derive from its international scale 

21CF’s bid has a strong strategic logic in terms of growing international scale further and evolving a global platform that integrates shared content strengths in sports and entertainment with Sky’s top of class expertise in customer relationships 

  • 21st Century Fox
  • Sky
  • Sky Deutschland
  • Sky Italia
Media, TV 22 February 2017
News brands: Rise of membership as advertising stalls

Despite a slowing of circulation decline in 2016, UK national newspaper brands continue to face profound structural challenges, with print advertising spend expected to be down at least -15% for the year

In digital advertising, tech and distribution platforms continue to dominate growth with newspaper publishers and other content producers competing for an increasingly small slice of the revenue pie

In this context, many publishers are turning to paid membership and content subscription models to generate online revenues; success here will require a radical shift in thinking to a retailer mindset that delivers high quality reader experiences through integrated execution of tech, data, marketing and design

  • DMGT
  • Guardian Media Group
  • Independent Print Ltd
  • News Corp
  • News UK
  • Telegraph Media Group
  • Trinity Mirror
Media 15 February 2017

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