Publications

Format: Mar 2017
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Sector(s) Datesort ascending
UK broadband, telephony and pay TV trends Q2 2015: ARPU dips, but bounce back in sight

While volume growth remained robust in Q2, UK residential communications revenue growth did dip again during the quarter, to 3.6% from 4.5% in the previous quarter and 5%-6% for much of 2014

However, this largely related to the timing of price increases, with there being a host of headline and effective increases due before the end of the year. The combined effect of those announced so far is sufficient to push market growth back up to the 5%-6% range for both of the next two quarters

Looking ahead, the actual launch of BT Sport Europe in Q3 may have further impact, but a modest pre-launch effect suggests that this will not be dramatic. BT will be hoping that it at least drives an acceleration of growth in its TV base, given that it is still free for these users

  • BT
  • Sky
  • TalkTalk
  • Virgin Media
Telecoms 20 August 2015
UK consumer magazines: Digital future still a long way off

In this extensive report on the UK magazine market we review demand for print magazines, the advertising marketplace and the transition to digital. We detail the major publishers’ print and digital activities and provide advertising forecasts for print and digital spend to 2018

Media, Press 14 August 2015
Print advertising hits structural wall

UK advertising is having a bumper year – some of the strongest growth for two decades – but print is receiving none of this upside. The year started soft then plummeted in the weeks immediately before and since the General Election, with increasingly serious implications for the sector

A reasonably steady UK economy and explosive TV and digital spend evidence a structural decline for print media display, though specific factors also point to some cyclical effects

We forecast a slowing of the rate of decline in H2 2015 and 2016, but we believe sooner or later the industry will have to work closely with agencies and brands to establish new terms of engagement for print media

  • DMGT
  • Gannett/Newsquest
  • Guardian Media Group
  • Johnston Press
  • Local World
  • News UK
  • Telegraph Media Group
  • Trinity Mirror
Media, Press 13 August 2015
Virgin Media Q2 2015 results: Bouncing back

Virgin Media’s subscriber figures bounced back in Q2 after a weak Q1, and consumer revenue growth also improved to a respectable 3% despite continued headwinds from VAT changes

The UK broadband market remains tough, and BT Sport Europe’s launch in Q3 will not make it any easier, but Virgin Media’s access to this and all other sports channels means that it should be able to remain above the fray

The network extension program is likely to give further growth impetus from 2016, and the company is laying the groundwork for network speed upgrades which will maintain its speed advantage for at least the medium term

  • Virgin Media
Telecoms 11 August 2015
ITV H1 2015 results: International Television

The end of ITV’s five year transformation plan leaves it a different company to the one that had only just emerged from the recession and advertising collapse of 2008/9, with total external revenues up 37% on H1 2010 and EBITA more than doubling from £165m to £400m across the same time period

This turnaround comes off the back of a resurgent TV advertising market, with ITV NAR revenues up 15% since H1 2010, but ITV has also expanded its Studios division, investing an initial £760m in international production companies over the last three years

However, there are some areas of concern, particularly ITV’s 7.7% drop in share of viewing since H1 2010, the biggest among the main broadcasters. There are also doubts about the longevity of the Studios acquisitions – what happens when key hits dry up? Or top talent leaves at the end of the buyout period?

  • ITV
Media, TV 10 August 2015
Sky plc growing synergies - Q4 2015 results

The first set of annual results to include all three Sky pay-TV operations in Europe shows Sky plc to be off to a very good start: subscriber growth up by 5%, churn everywhere below 10%, adjusted group revenues up 5% and operating profit up 18%

Excellent though the start has been, each of the pay-TV operations faces its own specific challenges – be they to do with ARPU growth in Germany & Austria, subscriber growth in Italy, or football in some shape or form across all three markets and nowhere more so than in UK & Ireland

Most importantly for the Sky European merger, the latest results indicate that Sky is well on course with its target annual run-rate of £200 million in synergies by 2017; but with the UK model to act as a template, it is the fast-growing connected space that catches the eye

  • Sky
  • Sky Deutschland
  • Sky Italia
Media, Telecoms, TV, UK Media 6 August 2015
EE Q2 2015 results: Margin boost on lost costs

EE remains the slowest growing of the ‘big 4’ UK MNOs or the only one in decline with service revenue growth at -1.8%, a touch lower in reported terms despite a slight underlying improvement

Adjusted EBITDA margin improved to a record 26.6%, a somewhat fortunate compromise on the loss of gross adds share since the demise of Phones 4U – and associated reduction in (expensive) third-party gross adds

In a seasonally low broadband quarter, EE actually gained net adds share, showing resilience to heightened marketing from Sky and underscoring the merits of EE’s in-store cross-selling strategy 

  • EE
Fixed Line, Mobile, Telecoms 6 August 2015
Vodafone Q1 2015/16 results: Steady improvement continues

Vodafone Europe’s slow but steady improvement in service revenue growth continued into the June quarter to reach -1.5% from -2.6% in the previous quarter, and -8.2% just one year ago

This was driven in roughly equal parts by subscriber growth improvements and ARPU, with both likely benefiting from Vodafone’s Project Spring investment, rapidly growing mobile data and an easing of competitive aggression

Mobile service revenue is still declining at 2-3%, making margin stabilisation still challenging for now, but there remains room for further improvement, and revenue stabilisation is at last in sight

  • Vodafone
Fixed Line, Telecoms 5 August 2015
BT Q1 2015/16 results: Solid all round

BT had a solid all round Q1, with broadband share robust, fibre growth still strong, revenue growth bouncing up a little on the business side and cost control robust

BT Sport Europe launches this quarter, and will boost revenues but raise costs by more; we continue to believe that the extra net costs can easily be covered by group-wide costs savings to allow group EBITDA to continue growing over the full financial year

The broadband market is increasingly characterised by high headline pricing coupled with heavy promotional discounting, and BT’s early headline price rise scheduled for September continues this trend

  • BT
Telecoms 3 August 2015
BBC Green Paper: red alert on funding

Non-subscribers can download this report in full - alongside all our other coverage of the BBC during the Charter Review process - from the 'BBC Charter Review' page of our site.

The DCMS Green Paper on BBC Charter Review promises a nit-picking examination of all the BBC does, where the focus will be on how to redefine its mission as well as reform and/or improve BBC services in the internet age

A central theme is the scale of the BBC. The Green Paper underlines the “dramatic” expansion of BBC services in the last 20 years, and questions whether there is still a need for the current breadth and universality of the BBC’s offering in the online world of greatly expanded choice

Among the future BBC funding options laid out in the Green Paper, the suggestion of a mixed public funding and subscription model raises serious concerns with regard to its potential negative impact on the commercial television sector

  • BBC
Media, TV, UK Media 30 July 2015
UK consumer books: a tale of two markets

Consumer ebook sales exploded after Amazon launched its Kindle in the UK in 2010, but growth rapidly slowed, and disruption was limited by genre, creating parallel ebook and physical book markets

Compared to the relentless downward spiral of music purchasing, these trends have been heartening for publishers and booksellers, but there are signs that slower, more complicated and insidious disruption is emerging

Decades of steady, albeit slow, growth in total book sales have been reversed, as consumers spend more time on a variety of mobile-delivered services, including some in classic content categories for books

  • Amazon
Media, Mobile, UK Media 28 July 2015
TalkTalk Group Q1 2015/16 results: Work in progress

TalkTalk’s June quarter delivered Group revenue growth of 3.5% with a modest slowdown in consumer, impacted by acquisitions and disposals, and a sharper drop in business

In a competitive trading environment, organic growth was likely suppressed, with the company’s focus being more on integrating the acquired bases of Virgin Media and Tesco

Guidance was reiterated with clear routes towards revenue growth targets of 5% in FY16 and confidence in the (challenging) medium term goal of 25% EBITDA margin in FY17

  • TalkTalk
Fixed Line, Telecoms 27 July 2015
East meets West: Nikkei picks up the FT

A cash offer of £844m from the giant Japanese financial information business Nikkei, a sometime partner of the FT, was too attractive to pass up for Pearson, whatever strategic reservations it felt about offloading the title or doing so now

The deal does not include Pearson’s coveted 50% stake in the Economist (or the FT’s London headquarters), so represents a considerable premium, of 35x earnings and 3x revenues by our estimates

Increased competition in the premium financial information market suggests the FT was a good consolidation opportunity. For Nikkei the move develops its opportunities in Europe and the US

Internet, Media, Press 24 July 2015
Apple Q3 2015: Watch this space

Apple delivered strong results in Q3 2015, selling a record number of iPhones for the June quarter, though iPad sales slid dramatically as consumers switch to ‘phablets’ and the company did not provide any detail on early sales of Watch, its biggest product launch since 2010

We remain bullish both on the iPhone and the Watch’s long term potential, though the latter remains a work in progress and, like many of Apple’s existing customers, we await the next iteration with interest; by contrast the iPad may have peaked already

Rising revenue from App Store, up 24% year-on-year, as well as new products like Apple Music and Apple Pay, should continue to boost the contribution from Services, and we expect this to evolve into a more material part of the business, but ultimately it’s still all about the iPhone

  • Apple
Internet, Media, Mobile, Technology, Telecoms 24 July 2015
BBC to pay for the over-75s

Non-subscribers can download this report in full - alongside all our other coverage of the BBC during the Charter Review process - from the 'BBC Charter Review' page of our site.

The recently elected Conservative government took less than a week to negotiate a licence fee settlement with the BBC immediately prior to Charter Renewal in which it will offload the government’s over-75s licence fee subsidy on to the BBC in return for various financial benefits

But, there are strings attached to a financially poor settlement, making it very difficult for the BBC to protest in the run-up to a charter that promises a major diminution in its ability to contribute to the UK creative economy

The only possible gainers are the commercial media, though the benefits may prove much less than some anticipate, however pleased the newspaper publishers may be by the Chancellor’s criticism of the BBC’s “imperial ambitions” in online news. Much more to be feared is the likely negative impact on the UK TV production sector

  • BBC
Media, TV, UK Media 15 July 2015
The plight of the BBC post-intervention

Non-subscribers can download this report in full - alongside all our other coverage of the BBC during the Charter Review process - from the 'BBC Charter Review' page of our site.

Last Monday’s (6 July) announcement by the Secretary of State marks the second major direct intervention by government without recourse to public consultation in the financing of the BBC throughout the corporation’s history. The previous occasion was 2010.

As in 2010, the government has interfered by top-slicing the BBC’s licence fee revenues. We estimate the current annual top-slicing component that will appear in the annual accounts for 2014/15 (BBC year running from April to March) to be in the region of £525 million, including funding the BBC World Service for the first time (est. circa £245 million). By the time the BBC fully absorbs the over-75 subsidy (worth £608 million) in 2020/21, we are looking at a total revenue impact of circa £750 million; that is without taking inflation into account.

  • BBC
Media, TV, UK Media 13 July 2015
Content marketing: publishers' saviour?

Brands are investing more than £5.2 billion a year in content strategies, £1.2 billion of it with consumer media, and investment is growing at 25% per annum, massively outstripping growth in traditional advertising

Content marketing defies the broader direction of travel in the digital era – response-measured programmatic advertising – by expressing value in content and context, much of it at the top of the discovery funnel

In a rapidly converging marketing value chain some consumer publishers are adopting agency values and practices by responding to the changing demands and expectations of their advertisers

Internet, Media, Press, UK Media 6 July 2015
A new Fox bid for Sky: when, not if

News Corp’s original bid for full ownership of BSkyB was withdrawn because of the phone hacking scandal. It was never blocked by regulators. Had it not been for the scandal, the bid would almost certainly have been approved.

With the phone hacking scandal fallout largely over and the election of a friendly government, the climate is now much more favourable to a renewed bid. With undertakings, we believe it would be approved by regulators.

The increasingly global scale of TV and film distribution means the commercial case for the bid is, if anything, stronger now than in 2010. The questions are simply whether the right price can be agreed, and how high up it is on James Murdoch’s list of priorities.

  • 21st Century Fox
  • News Corp
  • Sky
  • Sky Deutschland
  • Sky Italia
Media, Technology, Telecoms, TV, US Financials 1 July 2015
BT Sport - the Champions?

BT will soon for the first time charge the majority of viewers for their own channels with the launch of the BT Sport Pack. The Pack includes BT Sport Europe, home to UEFA’s European football tournaments from this August, the rights to which BT are paying £299 million a year

Viewing figures for the big European tournaments are not as high as one might expect given their prominence. Consumer demand for the new channel will also be highly dependent on the success of British teams, notably lacking in recent seasons

We therefore do not expect a dramatic impact on BT Sport (or BT broadband) subscribers, and the widening losses will put pressure on BT’s margin squeeze test regulation, although they are easily absorbable at BT Group level

  • BT
  • ITV
  • Sky
Media, Telecoms, TV, UK Media 30 June 2015
European mobile in Q1 2015: Another improvement, but not in Spain

European mobile service revenue growth improved once more in Q1, rising 1.1ppts to -1.6%, continuing a trend of underlying growth improvement that started in Q3 2014. The improvement was mainly driven by easing declines in France and Italy but deteriorating performance in Spain meant that Europe-wide growth did not improve by as much as in the last two quarters

Pricing stabilisation appears again to be the main driver of recovery (in those countries that are recovering) with more rational pricing allowing operators to monetise rapid data usage growth. However, more price cut moves have been made in France since the end of the quarter, Italy remains an inherently unstable market and Spain again suffered this quarter from convergence discounts

As data usage continues to grow rapidly, customer concern for high quality data networks increases, which makes investment in superior 4G networks a clearer differentiator for operators to convey to customers. The UK market leads the EU5 in this regard, and has taken advantage through rationally priced tiered data plans, but this effect spreading to the rest of the EU5 is a source of optimism as 4G roll-outs continue across Europe

  • Hutchison 3G
  • Iliad
  • Orange
  • T-Mobile
  • Telefonica
  • Vodafone
Mobile, Telecoms 25 June 2015

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