Publications

Format: Dec 2019
Sector(s) Datesort descending
Amazon’s pivot to Marketplace

Amazon, the gatekeeper to 100 million Prime members, is increasingly reliant for growth on Marketplace, where third-party sellers compete with first-party products 

Amazon’s multi-channel platform strategy delivers choice and low prices to customers, but third-party sellers have increasingly complained that their playing field is not level

After Amazon’s seller agreements were modified in August to implement a competition ruling in Germany, the European Commission is now investigating the data layer 

 

  • Amazon
Non-UK Media, Media 16 September 2019
Time to liberalise UK TV advertising minutage

The UK TV advertising market, in decline since mid-2016, could benefit from a liberalisation of advertising minutage if Ofcom reviews COSTA and decides to make changes

Broadcasters could gain from the flexibility to devote up to 20% of peaktime minutes to advertising under the EU’s revised Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD)

Ofcom could also level the playing field between PSB and non-PSB channels, although more minutes of advertising on TV is unlikely to inverse the medium’s decline

  • Channel 4
  • ITV
  • Ofcom
  • Sky
Media, Telecoms, TV, UK Media 24 September 2019
BVOD advertising: on-demand in demand

Broadcaster video on demand (BVOD) advertising is in demand with an £89m rise in 2018 spend to £391m, and is predicted to double within the next six years

The rise of on-demand viewing has created a scaled advertising proposition with a strong 16-34 profile – a relief for both broadcasters and advertisers, given the long-term decline in linear TV impacts for younger audiences

Big challenges remain: linear TV ad loads look excessive in on-demand, BVOD CPTs can be off-puttingly high, and measurement is still unresolved. BVOD is a welcome bright spot which faces online video competition head-on, but it won’t be able to turn broadcasters’ fortunes around alone

  • Channel 4
  • ITV
  • Sky
  • YouTube
Media, Telecoms, TV, UK Media 4 October 2019
Women's sport: inching towards the media mainstream

Media coverage of women’s sport escalated this summer thanks to the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, which ignited national interest. The Lionesses attracted an exceptional peak TV audience of 11.8 million for England’s semi-final match against the USA

Still, coverage of women's sport remains minimal outside of major events: only 4% of printed sports articles reference female athletes. Quality press are leading the way—the launch of Telegraph Women’s Sport being the prime example—but the popular press are yet to follow

Freely-accessible coverage will generate greater interest and audiences for women’s sport, but continuous investment from all media will be needed to fulfil its potential

  • BBC
  • BT
  • Channel 4
  • DMGT
  • Express Newpapers
  • Guardian Media Group
  • ITV
  • News UK
  • Ofcom
  • Reach
  • Sky
  • Telegraph Media Group
  • Trinity Mirror
Internet, Media, TV, UK Media 7 October 2019
Telecoms sector returns: Money’s too tight to mention

Mobile sector returns are low, particularly for smaller-scale operators, with H3G earning less than its cost of capital. Regulatory initiatives, spectrum auctions and 5G look set to worsen this picture as H3G strives to gain viable scale

Back-book pricing is crucial to the returns of fixed challengers. Regulatory intervention is likely to lead to a waterbed effect in the fixed sector and exacerbate challenges in mobile

New entrant business case in full fibre is limited to de facto monopoly opportunities. There is the potential for BT’s returns to increase markedly if it gets full fibre right but new entrants’ inferior economics are unlikely to offer sufficient investor appeal

  • BT
  • EE
  • Hutchison 3G
  • O2
  • Ofcom
  • Openreach
  • TalkTalk
  • Vodafone
Telecoms 18 October 2019
SVOD subscriber trends: who is buying and how many subs

With a raft of new streaming services about to hit, there remains a question as to the appetite for multiple subscriptions

Pay-TV subscribers continue to be more likely to take SVOD services—especially when they are distributed on their set-top boxes—however the average number of services per household is well below one

Greater variety and quality of services will likely increase the average number of subscriptions but given the siloing nature of these services, Netflix’s incumbency, library and distribution are its strength; new entrants will battle for a supplementary role

  • Amazon
  • Netflix
  • Sky
  • Virgin Media
Media, TV 23 October 2019
Peak football revenues and post-boom scenarios

Broadcast licensing revenues for football are likely to be ex-growth in the top five markets in Europe, with some limited upside from sponsorship and out-of-Europe rights. 

The broadcast revenue boom stoked the rise of super clubs with global fan bases, feeding player transfer valuations, and a potential downturn of the latter could magnify the impact of the revenue decline. 

The leagues in Italy, France and Spain are more exposed to the risks of broadcast licensing revenue decline, while the Premier League’s model looks robust.
 

  • BT
  • DAZN
  • Sky
Media, Telecoms 25 October 2019
Free video! Apple TV+, Disney+, HBO Max and Peacock in a rush for scale and partners

New SVOD entrants are prioritising reach over revenue in the US with extensive ‘free’ offers, including Apple TV+ (to hardware buyers), Disney+ (to Verizon customers), HBO Max (to HBO subscribers) and Comcast’s Peacock (to basic cable homes)

This is the latest development in an unfolding global story of partnerships, continuing on from multiple Netflix and Amazon distribution deals with platforms, bringing benefits to both parties

In Europe, Sky faces price pressure, but it has secured its HBO partnership and can now talk to Disney from a position of strength

  • 21st Century Fox
  • Comcast
  • NBCUniversal International
  • Netflix
  • T-Mobile
  • TalkTalk
  • Turner
  • Virgin Media
  • Walt Disney
Media, Non UK Media, TV, UK Media 31 October 2019
TI Media goes back to the Future

Specialist publisher Future has offered £140m for generalist TI Media’s 41 brands, which will give Future 220 global brands upon expected completion in Spring 2020. The acquisition, which includes wholesaler Marketforce, is contingent upon shareholder and CMA approval

Future is the darling of publisher stocks, pursuing an energetic growth and scale strategy, and diversifying revenues through digital and experience innovation

How Future’s culture of experimentation and optimisation will work with TI Media’s more general portfolio is an open question. Only time will tell if the overall portfolio balance will work

  • TI Media
Media, Technology, UK Media 1 November 2019
Champions League rights auction: BT’s cost-cutting opportunity

Champions League UK TV rights, at £394m/season, appear to have reached a ceiling, with costs on a per match basis now comparable to the more-desirable Premier League

In the imminent auction, current rightsholder BT is the clear frontrunner. Potential competitors appear reluctant: Sky Sports has thrived since losing the rights in 2015, and no other players can reasonably compete at this spend

This presents BT with a golden opportunity to rein in costs, with a view to moving BT Sport towards breakeven at an important time for the wider business, considering the financial pressure it is facing

  • BT
  • ITV
  • Sky
Media, Telecoms, TV, UK Media 4 November 2019
BT: Bumps on the road to recovery

BT suffered a weak Q2 with revenue and (particularly) EBITDA declines accelerating, but this was mainly down to timing (particularly at Openreach, which will likely recover in Q3), with the company confident in maintaining full year expectations

BT’s fixed broadband business enjoyed some recovery as the pricing environment improves, but will suffer another price timing bump next quarter, and its mobile business is suffering from a tough market environment that is unlikely to improve in the short term

The company is busy re-branding, re-positioning and transforming, but the outlook for football rights costs and fibre roll-out regulation will dominate in the short term, and further bumps (such as the Virgin MVNO contract loss) may emerge

  • BT
  • EE
  • Openreach
Telecoms 6 November 2019
Consumer magazine publishing: from brand-led to capabilities-led

Consumer magazine circulation and advertising continue to spiral down, with notable exceptions at the top of the market and in a handful of key genres, triggering ever greater revenue diversification and innovation

The market is fundamentally over-supplied and the gap between successful portfolios and the glut of secondary titles is growing. Furthermore, the distribution and retail supply chain hang by a thread

There are some encouraging signs. Publishers are evolving, with their strategies and leadership capabilities increasingly defined by the needs of the industry they serve rather than the publishing brands they exploit, bringing the consumer model closer to more thoroughbred B2B models

  • Apple
  • Conde Nast
  • Express Newpapers
  • Hearst
  • Reach
  • TI Media
  • Time Inc
  • Trinity Mirror
Internet, Media, UK Media 7 November 2019
O2 doing better than appears in tough times

In spite of total revenue growth of 4%, O2’s service revenue growth took another step down to -3% this quarter, consistent with the worsening environment and EE’s results 

Its true performance is likely better than reported as IFRS15 has an artificially dampening effect on its service revenue as a consequence of O2’s Custom Plans, and is something of a boost to its impressive 6% EBITDA growth

O2 needs to continue to pedal hard to keep ahead of this challenging environment – with little let-up on the regulatory front, more aggression from Vodafone and H3G, and a potential regulatory hit to its Custom Plans 
 

  • O2
  • Telefonica
Telecoms 8 November 2019
Sky Q3 2019 results: balanced, but more to come?

While Sky’s overall revenues continue to rise, Q3’s growth was hampered by a significant fall in advertising revenue and to a lesser extent a slowdown in content sales

Underlying EBITDA growth was in the mid-teens. Next quarter, Sky will continue to benefit from lower Premier League rights costs versus last season, and profit appears on track to meet full year guidance

Q3 saw a rare decline in Sky’s total number of customers due to the conclusion of Game of Thrones. Sky clearly understands the value of unique content—recently extending its HBO deal. In our view, this was essential, since without a distribution deal for Disney+ (launching in the UK in March) Sky would lose Disney’s alluring content

  • Comcast
  • NBCUniversal International
  • Sky
Media, Telecoms 11 November 2019
Virgin Media: challenging quarter, but opportunities ahead

Virgin Media had a challenging quarter, with its early price rise driving weak subscriber figures and product spin-down, resulting in reduced revenue growth and an accelerated OCF decline

The market environment remains challenging with very competitive pricing on superfast and little push for ultrafast, but superfast pricing is easing and competitors’ ultrafast pushes should accelerate in 2020

Full fibre roll-outs remain a threat and an opportunity in almost equal measure, with Virgin Media’s positioning likely to be clarified as the regulatory mist clears over the next year

  • Liberty Global
  • Openreach
  • Virgin Media
Telecoms 14 November 2019
Local media at a crossroads: from incremental to radical innovation

The local press is in an existential crisis: relentless decline in revenues since 2004 has rebased the scale of the sector, but there is little if any consensus about what to do next, despite broad agreement that the implications for democracy are deeply troubling

Incumbents have focused on incremental innovation with limited success, and have failed to adapt their digital strategies from those created 20 years ago, despite overwhelming evidence that they do not work, and never will

We argue for radical innovation, switching the industry’s focus from advertising to communities, building new use-cases while also sustaining print media for as along as possible, both to buy time but also to develop a multimedia roadmap for utility, entertainment and public good services

  • Auto Trader
  • Express Newpapers
  • Facebook
  • Gannett/Newsquest
  • Google
  • Guardian Media Group
  • Johnston Press
  • Local World
  • New York Times
  • Reach
  • Trinity Mirror
Internet, Media, UK Media 15 November 2019
Turnaround still elusive at Vodafone

Vodafone continues to strike a very shareholder-friendly focus and tone but its operating performance remains decidedly muted, with revenue growth up just a touch but EBITDA growth halved

Vodafone’s drive for convergence is still costing it dearly. German mobile ARPU is down 7% and Liberty Global’s assets disappointed on their first consolidation with cashflow enhancement less than half that expected 

Apart from its ill-advised convergence strategy, Vodafone is making many sensible moves and there are indications that its unlimited plans are gaining traction. With leverage tight, pressure is mounting for demonstrable improvements in the financials some time very soon 

  • EE
  • Liberty Global
  • O2
  • T-Mobile
  • Telecom Italia
  • Vodafone
Telecoms 20 November 2019
TalkTalk - A discount brand pushing a premium product

TalkTalk enjoyed impressive EBITDA growth of 14% in H1 19/20, despite revenue growth pitching down sharply in Q2, and gross margin falling due to the rapid adoption of high speed broadband

The fall in costs was driven by a combination of good expense control and lower subscriber acquisition costs, in part due to improved efficiency, but in part due to a falling subscriber base, which is not a sustainable route to earnings growth

While the current dynamics are challenging, market prices have been firming recently, and should firm further as ultrafast becomes more popular, but TalkTalk needs to move to a more premium pricing position to take full advantage

  • TalkTalk
Telecoms 26 November 2019
Champions League senses end of growth cycle

With pay-TV competition faltering, UEFA is aiming to stimulate demand for 2021-24 TV rights with early auctions, a possible relaunch of FTA broadcasts, and even, unrealistically, by considering an online service of its own

In the recently completed UK auction, facing no major threat from Sky, BT kept the rights at an almost flat price – probably missing a cost saving opportunity

In the upcoming auctions on the Continent, with former buyers such as SFR, Mediaset and Vodafone having cut back on premium sports, the major platforms’ bids will probably be unchallenged

  • BT
  • Canal Plus
  • DAZN
  • Discovery
  • Mediaset
  • RTL
  • SFR
  • Sky
  • Sky Deutschland
  • Sky Italia
  • Telefonica
  • Vivendi
Media, Telecoms 26 November 2019
Pressure on Facebook over political advertising

With elections in the UK in December, and in the US in 2020, online political advertising is receiving intense scrutiny. Google has announced limits on targeting, while Twitter has banned politicians from buying ads

Facebook is the big player in online political ads, and it continues to allow targeted political ads, and to carve them out as exempt from fact-checking

Facebook wants to keep Republicans on side and surf the revenue opportunity, but pressure will increase with US elections, and we expect Facebook to bring in restrictions

  • Facebook
  • Google
  • Twitter
Internet, Media, Technology, UK Media 28 November 2019

Pages