Publications

Format: Oct 2019
Sector(s) Datesort ascending
UK advertising spend - Brexit year forecasts

Our central case forecast with orderly EU withdrawal predicts 2.7% growth for total UK advertising spend, down from 4.7% in 2018. We have a no-deal Brexit scenario that predicts a smaller advertising recession than in 2009, with total ad spend declining 3% and display down 5.3% in 2019

The total advertising figures partly mask the pressure on UK consumers, through an expansion of the measured advertising spend universe. This is due to significant self-serve online advertising growth by SMEs, and non-advertising marketing budgets moving to online advertising platforms

In a downturn, we’d expect advertisers to become more tactical, which would disproportionally affect display media including TV, which is further affected by declining commercial impacts among younger adults. Search and social advertising would see only small growth through the first year of a recession

  • Amazon
  • Channel 4
  • Facebook
  • Google
  • ITV
Media, Technology, TV 14 January 2019
Apple and Amazon bury the hatchet

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Amazon’s recent deals with Apple in TV, music and device sales mark a turning point after a decade of frosty relations

The context for this involves shifting priorities at both firms, growing pressure on Apple’s iPhone business, and rivals in common — first and foremost Google, but also the likes of Netflix and Spotify

The uneasy alliance helps both companies consolidate their strengths in the platform competition over media and the connected home — but trouble already brews

  • Amazon
  • Apple
  • Facebook
  • Google
  • Microsoft
  • Spotify
Media, Mobile, Technology 10 January 2019
Scandinavian video: Slow TV but swift evolution

The Scandinavian markets sit at the cutting edge of the TV industry’s evolution—a product of tech-savvy citizens, superb connectivity, and generally high incomes

Take-up of SVOD is high, yet while this has had a pronounced effect on viewing, pay-TV subscription numbers have proved surprisingly resilient

Traditionally dominant public service broadcasters are under greater financial and political pressures, with the licence fee scrapped in both Denmark and Sweden

  • Netflix
  • Sky
Non-UK Media, Media, TV 8 January 2019
UK broadband, telephony and pay TV trends Q3 2018 - ARPU showing signs of life

Broadband market volume growth resumed its downward trend in the September quarter after a blip in the previous quarter that was likely caused by a wholesale transfer distorting the figures. Revenue growth, however, perked up to 1.9% from 1.7% in the previous quarter, an encouraging recovery especially given that it was not primarily driven by the timing of a price increase

ARPU growth improved across all four of the major operators, countering recent trends, with a focus on higher value offerings a common theme. High speed broadband adoption accelerated in the quarter across most operators, encouraged by Openreach’s volume discount offer, although this was partially driven by keener high speed pricing

Revenue growth at Virgin Media, Sky and TalkTalk converged at around 3%, with BT Consumer lagging at -1%. However, excluding the effect of BT’s shrinking telephony-only base and smoothing the sporadic boost of its 9-monthly price rise, BT Consumer’s revenue is in the middle of the pack at 3.0% 

  • BT
  • Liberty Global
  • Sky
  • TalkTalk
  • Virgin Media
Media, Telecoms 19 December 2018
European mobile in Q3 2018: Northern Europe disappoints while the South struggles on

European mobile service revenue growth slipped again this quarter to -1.0% as the UK and Germany disappointed and the Southern European countries worsened. The gap in service revenue growth rates between the Southern European countries and the UK and Germany increased again to a spectacular 5.5ppts

Spain was perhaps the biggest surprise this quarter with service revenue growth deteriorating by more than 3ppts; primarily due to Vodafone who posted a dire performance on all fronts

Next quarter, a somewhat delayed improvement in trend from the annualisation of roaming tariff cuts in the UK and Germany is possible, competitive intensity in France looks set to intensify as Iliad renews its aggression in the face of slowing momentum. Although there may be some reprieve on the rate of subscriber loss in Italy, Iliad is likely to continue to impose significant ARPU pressure on all operators

Media, Telecoms 19 December 2018
DAZN: lofty ambitions in OTT sports

With sport at the heart of the pay-TV ecosystem, dedicated online-only streaming services could emerge as a threat to leading players like Sky 

The liveliest newcomer, DAZN, launched in 2016 with mostly second-tier sports. Now in seven markets and counting, it has recently made bold moves into top-flight competitions, notably in Italy, albeit as a secondary player 

History has not been kind to those challenging pay-TV incumbents by selling sports unbundled—particularly in Europe, as Setanta, ESPN, beIN SPORTS and Mediaset can testify. If DAZN can stick to secondary positions in premium rights, or simply less-expensive sports, perhaps it will fare better 

  • DAZN
  • Mediaset
  • Setanta
  • Sky
Media, Telecoms 18 December 2018
Auto classified marketplace

New car registrations will be down 6.3% (2.4m) in 2018, another year of decline from the 2016 peak of 2.7m, impacted by the soft consumer confidence in big-ticket purchases, with some spin down to used car sales

Auto Trader, despite the car industry’s downturn, has experienced only marginal pain thanks to the strategic focus on revenue diversification – principally into new cars, dealer auctions and enhanced subscription-based services for dealers

Our forecasts for media expenditure on cars in 2018 and 2019 are essentially flat. Auto Trader’s positioning offers insulation in a downturn, and we expect they will gain share in marketing spend, though not necessarily in terms of total consumer or industry expenditure

  • Auto Trader
  • eBay
Internet, Media, Telecoms, UK Media 17 December 2018
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 three-player markets

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

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