Publications

Format: Nov 2017
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Sector(s) Datesort ascending
Tinder and online dating: who's paying?

Tinder is one of the most high-profile mobile apps on the market and has transformed the adoption of online dating

Tinder’s success is due in large part to its understanding of user experience, which is key to getting, keeping and upselling users through network effects

But the financial value of this success is limited by the industry: even a mobile revolution has not created a high-revenue mass market where none existed before 

  • Guardian Media Group
Internet, Media, Mobile, Technology 27 June 2017
The map is now the territory

We are in the midst of a rapid change in how maps are made and used, from a world of cartographers making records of physical features to sell to consumers and businesses, to one where information about the world is automatically tracked and measured, and built into every service we use

A whole host of industries traditionally unconcerned with geography are being and will be transformed by maps and location, from retail and advertising to finance and insurance. Every business needs to know what maps can offer them

A variety of maps suppliers are jostling for position in serving this growing need: local or international, free or commercial, seeing mapping as a core or side-business. Different suppliers suit different requirements

  • Apple
  • Google
Non-UK Media, Internet, Media, Mobile, Technology 26 June 2017
News publishers accelerate membership drive

In an immersive industry workshop in Turin celebrating La Stampa’s 150th anniversary, quality news publishers from around the world expressed a strong collective belief in membership, an editorial strategy supported by an emerging advertising opportunity

Editorial and service relevance was defined by widely varying publisher missions, categorised by a range of local and specialist use-cases, creating highly differentiated services for print, mobile and other delivery

A low-level hum in the discussions was a recognition that fundamental change in company culture – editorial and commercial as well as business operations – is a complex but urgent requirement for achieving a long-term sustainable news service

  • BBC
  • New York Times
  • News Corp
Media 26 June 2017
UK mobile market Q1 2017: EE leads the way

UK mobile service revenue growth continued to improve, with EE now the clear leader in service revenue growth terms. The rate of improvement has started to slow, but pricing remains solid and data traffic continues to grow healthily

EE’s performance was helped by robust subscriber growth but mainly driven by its very strong ARPU growth, which is in turn driven by ‘more-for-more’ pricing and a service/content tiered pricing model. Others are starting to follow this approach

The short/medium term outlook remains healthy, with the price increases made in Q2 likely to more than compensate for roaming cuts in the latter part of the year.  Looking further forward, the launch of 5G could be disruptive due to the introduction of copious extra spectral capacity, and therefore the results of the upcoming auction will be key for the sector post-2020

  • EE
  • Hutchison 3G
  • O2
  • Vodafone
Mobile, Telecoms 22 June 2017
Vodafone Q4 2016/17 results: Solid results, better (short-term) outlook

Vodafone Europe’s mobile service revenue growth declined again to -1.0% from -0.6% in the previous quarter, but across the core top 4 markets it was essentially flat at -0.8%, and signs are encouraging for it improving next quarter

Contract subscriber share has (at last) stabilised across its top 4 markets, and continuing improvements in NPS suggest that Project Spring investments are finally being reflected in subscriber sentiment

The short-term outlook is positive with both subscriber growth and ARPU looking solid at worst. The longer-term results of market consolidation are the main threat, with powerful competitors potentially being created

  • Vodafone
Mobile, Telecoms, Vodafone 21 June 2017
How to sell games: borrowing ideas from Netflix and Apple

A Netflix-like subscription model for console based video gaming is a big step closer with Microsoft launching a clear and easy Xbox subscription game solution, and it may even work

Sony’s strategy for premium online services across all its businesses remains muddled and complicated, but could be fixed quickly: dropping game streaming is the first step, providing a lower cost subscription service is the second

Google’s admission that more curation in its games app store will be needed finally indicates a better understanding of the games industry, in parallel with the company’s efforts to win over other creative industries

  • Apple
  • Facebook
  • Google
  • Microsoft
  • Sony
Internet, Media, Mobile, Technology 21 June 2017
BBC Three: one year online

In February 2016, the BBC moved its youth-focused channel BBC Three out of the broadcast sphere and into an online-only delivery system, as part of plans intended to find an extra £100m in savings laid out in 2014

The new service would aim to continue fulfilling the channel’s remit of delivering innovative and diverse content to a key audience of 16-34s, but with greater emphasis on short-form and various more digitally focused formats

Now, more than a year on, the effort shows the difficulty traditional media brands have in adapting to space occupied by niches that primarily digital brands have carved out, although the ‘channel’ still manages largely to deliver on its remit with much of its original content 

  • BBC
Media, TV 20 June 2017
UK broadband, telephony and pay TV trends Q1 2017: Profit warnings come in threes

UK residential communications market revenue growth dipped 0.6ppts in Q1, from 3.3% in the previous quarter. This was mainly driven by ARPU weakness arising due to the timings of Sky and Virgin Media’s price rises, but weakness also stemmed from the sustained decline in broadband volume growth and continued new customer price competition

In competitive terms, BT and Sky suffered as a result of communicating price rises in the quarter, Virgin Media had a strong quarter if not quite as good as it was expecting, and TalkTalk manged to recover to positive retail broadband net adds at the expense of high marketing costs

BT, Liberty Global and TalkTalk issued profit warnings in the quarter, all of which were at least loosely related to increasing pressures in the consumer market. We expect these pressures – a slowing broadband market, an expanding Virgin Media, and a stabilising TalkTalk – to continue

  • BT
  • Liberty Global
  • Sky
  • TalkTalk
  • Virgin Media
Fixed Line, Internet, Media, Mobile, Telecoms, TV, UK Media 19 June 2017
BT Q4 2016/17 results: Mobile strength, pressure elsewhere

BT had a reasonable quarter in its consumer broadband business given market pressures, and a very strong one at EE with continued growth acceleration. It had a good quarter for fibre adoption as well, helping its wholesale divisions stabilise their revenue, but business/IT was weak as expected

Regulatory pressure remains intense despite the (welcome) Openreach agreement, with price cap regulation proposed or due on a range of products, and a regulatory approach which is far from investment-orientated

Pressures in the business/IT market are likely to continue, and pressures in the consumer broadband market are likely to intensify, justifying BT’s current cautious approach to guidance and dividends

  • BT
  • Liberty Global
  • Ofcom
  • Sky
  • TalkTalk
  • Vice Media
Fixed Line, Internet, Media, Mobile, Technology, Telecoms, UK Media 9 June 2017
US music publishing royalties for 2018-22

The “fair return” to US music publishers and songwriters for rights used by interactive streaming services will be decided in 2017 by the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB)

Rights owners want to switch to a fixed per-stream or per-user rate on all tiers, arguing music has an inherent value. Apple is asking for a much lower per-stream rate

Amazon, Google, Spotify and Pandora warn of disruption to free and ad-supported tiers if the revenue-share tariff is not rolled over, and the CRB could side with them

  • Amazon
  • Apple
  • Bertelsmann
  • Sony
  • Spotify
  • Vivendi
  • YouTube
Media, Music and Radio 8 June 2017
UK General Election online - news and advertising

In contrast to print coverage, most shared news and opinion content on social media was decidedly pro-Labour this election season, with fake news relatively non-existent compared to the US election in November

Facebook’s role in news distribution has steadily grown and now rivals Google’s, but only a half of the UK’s  electorate are active users – for the platform to become decisive in political news would require much stronger turnout among young voters

Facebook was the chief digital ad platform for both main parties, with Conservatives targeting Labour seats, Labour defending them and both adopting a negative tone

  • BBC
  • Facebook
  • Google
Internet, Media, Mobile, Technology, TV, UK Media 7 June 2017
Sky is favourite in twin (and odd) Italian football auctions

Domestic championship and Champions League rights for 2018-21 are auctioned almost simultaneously. The main uncertainties are the extent to which Sky will increase its exclusive coverage of Serie A, and whether it will try to win the Champions League auction to take advantage of rival Mediaset Premium’s announced retreat

Mediaset has complained to regulators over the Serie A terms, possibly seeking a repeat of the 2014 scenario when it provoked the termination of the auction and ultimately gained a private deal – an outcome still facing legal challenges. Any possible resolution of Mediaset’s dispute with Vivendi should not impact the auctions

We doubt that telecom or digital operators will be tempted by the €200m minimum price for the two internet-only packages with patchy regional coverage – a bad idea mandated by the regulator. However irrational behaviour at auctions should never be ruled out

  • Sky
  • Sky Italia
  • Telecom Italia
  • Vivendi
Media, TV 6 June 2017
Nintendo Switching to a new console era

The successful launch of the Nintendo Switch creates a new console model, and demonstrates the staying power and long term value of great franchises

Microsoft reveals the specification for Scorpio, but it won’t be enough to catch up to Sony. New franchises, and probably new leadership, will be the key to stopping Xbox sliding into irrelevance outside North America

Sony’s PlayStation 4 now exceeds 60m units worldwide, allowing Sony more freedom to publish a wide range of challenging creative console games, while VR games continue to gain momentum

  • Amazon
  • Microsoft
  • Sony
  • Walt Disney
Internet, Media, Mobile, Technology, TV 5 June 2017
ITV et al. facing the NAR squeeze

ITV’s latest trading Q1 trading update has sent a clear warning signal to the commercial TV industry as it gave guidance of 8-9% year-on-year decline in TV NAR (Net Advertising Revenue) in H1 2017

A substantial portion of the projected decline may be attributed to economic issues and relatively tough Q1 comparatives as per ITV guidance; however, there are clear signs of growing intrusion by online video advertising on traditional broadcast TV NAR

A review of trends points to major biases that swing the market towards the online space. It is time for all to reconsider both the impact of CRR (Contract Rights Renewal) in restraining TV NAR and the factors – by no means all sound – pushing up online video spend

  • ITV
Media, TV 31 May 2017
Amazon Channels: bite-sized pay-TV for the whole family

After a US debut, Amazon’s marketplace of SVOD services arrives in the UK and Germany, but without the major draws of HBO and Showtime

Unbundling SVOD for premium content strengthens Amazon’s position in the fast-developing connected TV landscape, where Prime Video is taking on Netflix, NOW TV and YouTube

For niche content providers, Amazon Channels provides a new, low-friction route to go direct-to-consumer with a mix of live and on-demand premium content alongside existing distribution strategies

  • Amazon
  • BT
  • Netflix
  • Sky
Media, Technology, TV 24 May 2017
TalkTalk Group Q4 2016/17 results: Rebasing profits for growth

TalkTalk managed to return to retail on-net broadband subscriber growth in the March quarter after years of decline, but at the expense of missing their EBITDA target for the year

They have stated a determination to grow the base going forward, but have admitted that this requires a rebasing of their EBITDA to spend the necessary amount on marketing, and guided to an EBITDA drop in the 2017/18 year

This looks much more realistic than their previous plans, but will in itself generate even more competitive intensity in the UK broadband market, which is already squeezed given the market volume slowdown and Virgin Media network extension

  • TalkTalk
Fixed Line, Media, Telecoms, UK Media 22 May 2017
UKTV 2016 results: viewing continues to climb, what awaits online?

2016 was another good year for UKTV, with appreciable growth in revenue and linear viewing share; a trajectory the product of a sensitive pay/free balance of its channels, investment in productive EPG slots and development of its original programming suite

Recent deals with both Sky and Channel 4 will go some way to providing financial stability, allowing UKTV to invest with more certainty in new content and encouraging further development of its online proposition

UKTV Play has underperformed, chiefly due to a lack of content. But with plans to significantly ramp up both its offering and marketing spend, it may well unlock further audiences; specifically targeting elusive 16-34 year-olds

  • UKTV
Media, TV, UK Media 19 May 2017
Virgin Media Q1 2017 results: Roll-out and competitive pressures

Virgin Media has run into network roll-out difficulties, having to revise down its previously stated homes passed figures and not committing to a full year 2017 target, with the current build run rate well below that required to hit its medium-term targets

Operating results were a little mixed, with ARPU showing signs of continued discounting and market-wide competitive pressures, and churn was higher than the previous year, but net adds were strong, RGUs stronger, and UK consumer cable revenue growth is still over 4%

Slower Project Lightning roll-out and weaker ARPU growth points to slower revenue growth during 2017 than might otherwise have been expected, but Virgin Media still has relatively strong prospects in a toughening market 

  • Liberty Global
  • Virgin Media
Fixed Line, Media, Mobile, Telecoms 19 May 2017
Mounting risks to marketing effectiveness

A partial — if seductively persuasive and impressive — data framework for online advertising combined with short-term incentives have encouraged a dramatic shift in the ratio of brand to activation advertising from 60:40 to 50:50, depressing the pricing of display media

Mounting evidence suggests a focus on quick returns and cheap media at all costs is hurting marketing effectiveness, measured in long-term Return-on-Investment, brand equity and consumer satisfaction

Guarding against this risk requires brand-focused advertisers to create more space for long-term judgement for CMOs, and to refocus agency remuneration towards planning and creative work<o:p></o:p></span></h2>

Internet, Media, Technology, UK Media 18 May 2017
BBC Studios: make or break

The launch of BBC Studios - the relocation of most of the broadcaster's in-house production capability into a commercial subsidiary - gives it the ability to compete for work elsewhere at the expense of a guaranteed quota at the BBC

The upside is large, with the opportunity to retain an increased amount of intellectual property, a requirement of growing importance. However, so is the risk, with sustainability dependent upon a major cultural shift; from comfortably retained provider to competitive production engine

Outside of a weak track record when competing for work, other entwined issues must be overcome for success in the medium term; demonstration of transparency in the commissioning process and watertight transfer pricing practices, and the dispelling of state aid concerns

  • BBC
Media, TV 10 May 2017

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