Publications

Format: Dec 2018
Sector(s) Datesort ascending
Recruitment classified marketplace

The UK’s labour market is tight, with an unemployment rate of 4.1%, the lowest since 1973. Peak vacancies and reports of skill shortages mask dull hiring plans amidst the gathering Brexit gloom, which will hit temporary hiring hard. We expect media expenditure to fall in 2018, substantially more among print publishers, spilling over into 2019 expenditure on media

The recruitment industry has benefited from the structural shift to outsourcing, and large agencies are portals in their own right, providing tools to companies to sift applicants to find the best match. Companies doing their own recruitment of professionals value listing on LinkedIn, the top UK site by visitors, and the efficiency of paying per applicant rather than for the listing

Second-placed Indeed has gained considerable momentum since being acquired by Japan’s Recruit Holdings in 2012. Indeed acquired third-placed Glassdoor in 2018, the latter having built its market position through user-generated reviews of employers. With Google serious again about Jobs, a sector (among others) it has tried to disrupt before, Monster and Jobsite are the more vulnerable to being crowded out 

  • Facebook
  • Google
  • Jobsite
  • LinkedIn
  • Microsoft
Media, Technology, Telecoms, UK Media 14 December 2018
Vertical marketplaces overview and property classified outlook

The UK consumer’s loss of confidence since the June 2016 referendum vote in favour of Brexit has reduced the revenues of both estate agents and auto dealers, with knock-on effects on their media spend, entrenching further the leadership positions of Rightmove and Auto Trader respectively. Only the UK’s recruitment marketplace is buoyant with a record level of vacancies, benefiting general recruitment aggregator Indeed, although deepening Brexit gloom among businesses will rapidly melt away vacancies

With internet users flocking to portals and away from print media, advertisers have followed suit with media spend on these portals to stimulate purchaser interest, although transactions are still conducted offline. Facebook and Google, which have long histories of contesting markets for local advertisers with little success, have re-entered classifieds. Facebook Marketplace is now accepting listings from estate agents and dealers, expanding from C2C to B2C in homes and cars. Google Jobs launched in the UK in July 2018 and enjoys partnerships with all the major portals other than Indeed

The sharp decline in sales and shift to lettings, sluggish price growth and pressure on estate agents’ commissions, are making marketing key to driving transactional activity in a longer sales funnel. Rightmove’s revenues are on track for a 10% increase in 2018 on the uplift in average revenue per agent (ARPA). Zoopla's market share rose with the end of OnTheMarket's 'one-other-portal' rule for shareholders upon its AIM listing in February 2018 

  • Auto Trader
  • DMGT
  • Facebook
  • Google
  • LinkedIn
  • Microsoft
  • Rightmove
Internet, Media, Technology, UK Media 13 December 2018
UK mobile market Q3 2018: Record growth yet disappointing

UK mobile market service revenue grew by 2.4% in Q3, a level not seen since early 2011. However, this 0.6ppt improvement on the growth rate in Q2 was very disappointing in the context of an expected 2-3ppt revenue growth bolster from the annualisation of roaming tariff cuts 

EE and O2 shared the top spot for growth, more than double the growth rate of H3G and far ahead of Vodafone which remains in negative territory and had only the slightest uptick this quarter

O2 is likely to be hit by its well-publicised network blackout in December, but experience from a similar problem back in 2012 suggests this will be modest and temporary, and it is otherwise performing well

  • BT
  • EE
  • Hutchison 3G
  • O2
  • Vodafone
Media, Telecoms 11 December 2018
Iliad running out of luck

Once on the winning side of strategic French telecoms price wars thanks to a struggling SFR, Iliad now looks wounded, and a possible prey, suffering from declining fixed and mobile KPIs – we expect cash flow losses of €617 million this year

Broadband, in a capex-heavy migration to higher margin fibre, may stabilise revenue with (somewhat) differentiating new ‘Freeboxes’ bundled with Netflix. Mobile (€2.3 billion burned since launch) hopes rest on on-net transition fostering profitability, but the 5G capex race looms

The new Italian mobile venture is explicitly and surprisingly behind the French legacy: it is already delivering a worse performance, and carrying much higher outlays (after 5G auctions spiralled). We believe Iliad has to revamp its model in France and consider differentiation with content to escape the discount brand trap
 

  • Iliad
Media, Telecoms 11 December 2018
UK TV advertising and consumer health check in Q4 2018: out of puff and headed for Brexit

Despite the consumer's confidence having been shaken since the referendum vote for Brexit in June 2016, monthly retail sales, especially online, managed to grow above the private consumption trend until this October, a turning point that could mark the start of a retail recession extending into 2019

Since mid-2016, TV advertising and retailing have lost their historical covariance, with TV advertising's recession briefly interrupted in the first half of the year due to sunny weather and the FIFA World Cup. After a flat Q3, we predict a resumption of TV advertising's decline, expected to be down 3-4% in Q4 2018 year-on-year

2018 will be flat for total TV advertising, still better than 2017. However, the medium's weakness will persist in the first half of 2019, with hopes for a recovery only in the second half, assuming an orderly withdrawal from the EU starts in March 2019

  • Channel 4
  • ITV
  • Sky
Brexit, Media, TV 10 December 2018
Hulu casts a spell

When its acquisition of 21st Century Fox closes, Disney will own 60% of Hulu. If it bought Comcast’s 30% stake (and WarnerMedia’s 10%), it could fully leverage the platform for its US direct-to-consumer strategy

Comcast’s Hulu stake has little strategic value to it. We argue it should sell to Disney in exchange for long-term supply deals for ESPN, as well as for the upcoming Disney+ and Hulu, similar to its recent pacts with Amazon Prime and Netflix

This could naturally be extended to Sky in Europe depending on whether Disney decides to launch all direct-to-consumer or sticks with pay-TV in certain markets

  • 21st Century Fox
  • NBCUniversal International
  • Netflix
  • Sky
  • Walt Disney
Media, TV 7 December 2018
SVOD in the US and UK: a tale of a three-player market

There is a belief in some quarters that there is space for a myriad of large SVOD services in the UK. We question whether there is room for more than the current three pacesetters; Netflix, Amazon and NOW TV

Like the UK, the US market is dominated by three services, and there is evidence of an appetite for further offerings. But the US market is conspicuously different to the UK's, with the forces behind cord-cutting in the States less apparent this side of the Atlantic

Potential domestic UK services would struggle to compete with the resources—supported by debt-funded and loss-leading models—that foreign tech giants can marshal

  • 21st Century Fox
  • Amazon
  • Apple
  • BBC
  • Channel 4
  • Freeview
  • ITV
  • NBCUniversal International
  • Netflix
  • Ofcom
  • Sky
  • Walt Disney
Media, TV 3 December 2018
O2 UK: scope for outperformance near-term, solid results thereafter

O2 has managed to deliver a solid financial performance over the past several quarters in spite of network constraints which are now resolved 

With signs that they are becoming more assertive in the market, and with continued brand strength and low churn, there is scope for that performance to hasten from here

Over the medium to long term, turnaround plans from the other MNOs could thwart outperformance by O2 but with an holistic culture of leading-edge marketing and innovation, we expect at least sustained solid results 

  • O2
  • Telefonica
Media, Telecoms 30 November 2018
TalkTalk stabilising, but strong growth evasive

TalkTalk had very solid Q2 and H1 results, with broadband net adds staying positive, high speed net adds accelerating, revenue growth above 3% and EBITDA rebounding back to growth

This was helped at the revenue line by a price increase in the quarter and in EBITDA terms by steep Openreach price reductions, with strong revenue growth and any EBITDA growth hard to replicate once these effects have annualised out

The company has nonetheless stabilised its subscriber base, revenue and profitability after some erratic years, with cost-cutting providing some potential for growth going forward

  • TalkTalk
Media, Telecoms 29 November 2018
HFSS TV watershed idea should be put to bed

The ban on pre-9pm TV ads for HFSS (high in fat, salt or sugar) products being considered by the Government would not play a constructive or quantifiable role in reversing the UK’s rising childhood obesity rates. 

The ban on HFSS product ads since 2008 around children’s programming has not impeded the inexorable rise of childhood obesity. In 2010, Ofcom termed an HFSS watershed ban ‘disproportionate’ and ‘ineffective’. 

In 2018, a watershed ban would be even less effective. Children’s linear broadcast TV viewing is down by half since 2010, mainly to YouTube’s advantage, which benefits from light-touch HFSS regulation.
 

  • Channel 4
  • ITV
  • Sky
Media, TV, UK Media 27 November 2018
Refocus imperative at Vodafone

Vodafone’s deteriorating financial performance is as much due to an increasing margin of underperformance relative to its peers as to challenging markets such as Italy

A strategic refocus on operational performance is long overdue and seems largely sensible, save for the continued push for discount-led convergence products which are driving underperformance

Although Vodafone posted 3% organic EBITDA growth for H1 of this year and is guiding to same for the full year, we view this definition as overly flattering with true EBITDA performance flat and revenues in decline

  • Vodafone
Media, Telecoms 26 November 2018
Virgin Media Q3 2018 results - Cautiously accelerating growth

Virgin Media’s revenue growth accelerated in Q3, off the back of improved subscriber ARPU and triple play growth, but actual customer and broadband figures slowed in line with the weakening market

Network roll-out was still (deliberately) slow, with the rate now well below the previous year, and the company indicating that it is not expecting to accelerate, although it is still the fastest new network builder in the UK by some margin

Both the ARPU focus and slow roll-out point to a cautious approach, with the company happier to ensure its existing customers offer good yields than to seek significant market share growth at this stage, which is probably wise

  • Virgin Media
Media, Telecoms 21 November 2018
PSB SVOD

The Public Service Broadcasters (PSBs) have been mulling a possible SVOD service, a decade after their ad-supported Project Kangaroo was blocked on competition grounds

Even if a reboot between the BBC and ITV were this time to be approved, we do not think Kangaroo 2 can succeed as a significant SVOD entrant in its home turf of the UK, above all because it’s too late

Other flaws in the offer are that it would be too small, non-premium, too old (archive), and too old (viewing profile), plus lacking sufficient financial resource to produce a pipeline of unique series

  • BBC
  • Channel 4
  • Freeview
  • ITV
Media, TV 12 November 2018
BT Q2 2018-19 results - Beating expectations, guidance still looks (a little) conservative

BT’s Q2 results were well ahead of both its full year guidance run-rate and financial market expectations, with revenue flat and EBITDA up 3% versus guidance and consensus at -2% for both metrics 

Operating metrics were more mixed, with broadband churn high and (our estimate of) net adds low, but fixed ARPU was solid, backed up by rapid adoption of BT Plus, fibre adoption re-accelerated and mobile was strong across all metrics

While part of the outperformance was likely due to H1/H2 phasing, it also reflects fairly conservative expectations and a solid operating performance, and hence full year guidance still looks very beatable, with a positive outlook beyond this

  • BT
Media, Telecoms 9 November 2018
BBC Drama: a loosening grip

A string of big, bold hits like Bodyguard, Killing Eve and Little Drummer Girl has reinvigorated the perception of the BBC’s drama schedule, with massive ratings and a coveted place in the public conversation

However, the lack of the broadcaster’s top dramas actually produced by BBC Studios—declining to just 4 of the top 25 in 2018—is cause for ongoing concern

At a time when the BBC is attempting to bulk up the iPlayer and programme IP has become the bedrock broadcasting asset, the BBC could be better placed  

  • BBC
  • ITV
  • Netflix
Media, Telecoms, TV, UK Media 8 November 2018
Misplaced media spend in a booming identity economy: a brand opportunity

Most UK consumer spending, and the vast majority of its growth, is in categories which reflect who we are and where we feel we belong: lifestyle signifiers, passions, and social activities.

Communities are at the heart of this growing economy, but ad spend on media which visibly targets us as members of a group in a relevant context has on average lagged behind in these categories.

Advertisers recognising the power of emotionally and culturally relevant context in media, sponsorships or events, are finding an opportunity for building brands for the identity economy.

Media, Telecoms 7 November 2018
Radio’s evolution towards a digital future

Radio faces challenges from Spotify and other online audio propositions, while the radio “dial” is challenged by smart speakers and global tech. UK radio broadcasters have risen to the occasion through innovation

New DAB stations have helped radio achieve record audiences and revenues. Combined digital listening is now over 50%, but FM remains the primary platform. The current mix of FM/AM and digital maintains radio’s relevance for the medium term

The long-term future is digital—a wide-ranging sector review is required to determine how to support digital radio’s growth and the question of a future switchover

  • Amazon
  • Apple
  • BBC
  • News UK
  • Spotify
  • YouTube
Media, Public Policy, Technology, UK Media 30 October 2018
PSB solidarity and collaboration

The Public Service Broadcasters (PSBs) are in the process of sliding from TV dominance to middling contenders, in terms of content expenditure and significance to viewers

There are calls from many sides that the PSBs need to collaborate in order to thrive, in an era when global debt-funded SVOD services are making all the running

This note explores what can realistically be achieved by PSB collaboration; where partnerships work best; and the areas best avoided

  • BBC
  • Channel 4
  • Freeview
  • ITV
Media, Telecoms 29 October 2018
US department stores, Amazon, and omnichannel fashion retail

Amazon is finding women’s fashion, a missing piece of its household-centric model, a tougher nut to crack than downmarket apparel

Higher-end US department stores are pushing back with an omnichannel model, emphasising long-term partnerships, a clever full-price/outlet model, and experiences which cross the online-offline divide

In apparel, Amazon and big box retailers have already triumphed over lower-tier American department stores, and even prestigious fashion brands are finding it harder and harder to refuse cooperation with the giants

  • Amazon
  • Facebook
  • Google
Media, Mobile, Technology 25 October 2018
Disney, Fox, Sky and Comcast: future relationships

With Comcast’s acquisition of Sky confirmed and Disney’s acquisition of 21st Century Fox on the path to regulatory clearance, how will the relationships of the various parties evolve?

Disney is betting on a standalone SVOD service in the US. However, its content deal with Sky in Europe is lucrative, and the performance of DisneyLife in the UK suggests its US strategy may not fit elsewhere

Sky’s relationships with Disney and Fox are crucial to its business. A joint pursuit to maximise returns from IP and distribution in Europe would be economically efficient for both Comcast/Sky and Disney/Fox

  • 21st Century Fox
  • Amazon
  • Netflix
  • Sky
  • Walt Disney
PDF Report, Media, TV, UK Media 24 October 2018

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