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
|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.
|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.
|PDF Report, Media, TV, UK Media||24 October 2018|
Esports & broadcasters: No game for old players
Drawn by its rapid growth and enviably youthful audience profile, incumbent broadcasters are paying increased attention to esports and its followers
Viewership of esports on UK broadcasters’ linear channels is low, with consumption on their online platforms likely the same. The market’s fragmented nature and global audience, along with the dominance of Twitch—and to a lesser extent YouTube—makes this unlikely to change
Broadcasters’ low-cost approach has primarily benefited competition organisers and games publishers. For broadcasters to create real revenues, massive upfront investment would be needed, with the risk of failure high
|Internet, Media, Technology, TV||9 October 2018|
Price is the object: the iPhone and its services
With a carefully priced, strong line-up of iPhones, Apple will consolidate its main revenue line and core user base in the near term
The latter feeds into a services business showing impressive growth, but which is also marked by missed opportunities and mounting negative consequences on the rest of the online ecosystem
For media businesses, Apple’s impact is larger than ever, inevitably leading to new kinds of friction around commercial terms, App store policies and browser features
|Media, Technology, Telecoms||2 October 2018|
What Sky means for Comcast
Comcast’s £30.6 billion acquisition of Sky brings to an end the long-running ownership battle since Disney agreed to tender Fox’s 39% stake to Comcast, also ending the Murdoch Family Trust’s interest in Sky
Comcast’s US domestic cable and global NBCU media businesses complement Sky’s European operation. Sky’s telecoms business is likely to expand, while the TV side should benefit from NBCU’s global distribution might, with greater revenues generated by its original content
Fox’s long-running battle with UK regulators over the public interest dimensions of the proposed Sky acquisition has also ended. Plurality of media is preserved by Comcast’s undertakings to support Sky News for 10 years
|Media, Telecoms, TV, UK Media||28 September 2018|
From promises to practice: AI in marketing at DMEXCO 2018
At DMEXCO, the top online advertising conference in continental Europe, a call for responsibility took centre stage rhetorically, but was hardly reflected on the conference floor
In contrast, concrete, on-the market applications of AI in advertising were no longer a rarity, with businesses from ad tech to consultancies demonstrating case studies in campaign management, consumer segmentation and personalisation
The industry is betting that the ePrivacy Regulation will be canned as policymakers fear Chinese and American dominance in AI, but the Chinese giants still had a confused marketing pitch at DMEXCO
|Media||24 September 2018|
European mobile in Q2 2018 - North-South gulf emerges and threatens to widen further
European mobile service revenue growth was sharply lower this quarter dropping to -0.7% after two years in positive territory, owing to weakness in the southern(ish) European markets of France, Italy and Spain
Iliad has strong momentum in Italy and we expect ARPU dilution to worsen into Q3, with the subscriber loss impact also growing. Any loss of traction for Iliad is likely to drive another round of price cuts
We expect continued north/south divergence in Q3 with the anniversary of the European roaming cuts boosting the UK and Germany in particular whilst the outlook for Southern European operators remains challenging
|Media, Telecoms||17 September 2018|
Broadcast TV is growing very old, very quickly
Linear TV is ageing, and the largest channels are ageing fastest. There is an ongoing double-whammy effect of a growing older population, and the loss of younger viewers to social media and SVOD services.
The PSBs are suffering more than most, especially the BBC channels. 31% of the population is aged 55+, but over 60% of viewing to BBC1 and BBC2 is by those aged 55+.
The trend can be halted, and even reversed to some degree. There is no inevitability to this ageing process, but it will take concerted efforts to fight it.
|Media, TV, UK Media||13 September 2018|
UK mobile market Q2 2018: Disappointment before dawn
UK mobile market service revenue grew by 1.7% in Q2, up from 1.3% in the previous quarter, a disappointing result in the context of boosts from both IFRS 15 accounting and the annual price rises in the quarter
O2 was the star performer this quarter, with its service revenue growth leaping ahead to claim the top spot. BT/EE’s service revenue growth declined on an underlying basis, with weak contract net adds over the last six months catching up with it, and H3G and Vodafone were slightly improved and steady respectively excluding some one-off effects
Next quarter, the impact from the EU roaming cuts will annualise out, providing a substantial fillip to all operators. Ceteris paribus, this would put market growth in the vicinity of 4%, a figure not reached for years
|Media, Mobile, Telecoms, UK Media||10 September 2018|
Japan's recorded music market starts to stream
Recorded music revenues in Japan are stuck in decline as physical sales sag, although 2017 marks the first year when streaming gained a foothold with 8 million subscribers.
J-pop fans spend on 'experiences' with their idols including events, merchandise, CDs and DVDs, which streaming cannot replicate. Top native LINE MUSIC offers integration with a popular messaging app and bundling with mobile.
Serving international repertoire, Apple Music claims more subscribers than Spotify in Japan, which is more localised, and has most users on the free tier. Amazon Prime Music is a looming constraint on the adoption of subscriptions.
|Media, Music and Radio||6 September 2018|
Commercial TV impact trends: better than viewing trends, worse than ideal
There has been no shortage of attention paid to declining TV viewing over recent years, but much of it focuses on overall viewing time rather than advertising delivery.
This is to overlook the engine driving most of the UK’s television industry. Commercial impact delivery has held up well relative to overall viewing, and is strong for certain key demographics.
Nonetheless there are generational and behavioural changes afoot which are exerting downward pressures on impacts, especially for younger audiences. An archipelago of Love Islands is needed (Stranger Things have happened).
|Media, Telecoms||30 August 2018|
UK broadband, telephony and pay TV trends Q2 2018: Great volume, shame about the ARPU
UK broadband subscriptions re-accelerated in Q2, bucking a three-year downward trend, but market revenue growth still fell as BT’s overlapping price increase dropped out and all of the operators continued to struggle to meaningfully grow ARPU
Regular existing customer price increases and continued (but slowing) migration to high speed are being cancelled out by flat-to-down new customer pricing, and the frequent need to discount existing customers down to these levels to retain them
High speed net adds disappointed despite Openreach’s price cut, with many consumers unwilling to pay even a modest price premium for extra speed, a sobering thought as aggressive full fibre network roll-outs are being considered
|Fixed Line, Media, Telecoms, UK Media||28 August 2018|
Audible, audiobooks and lessons from Amazon
Audiobooks are growing fast, driven by smartphone adoption and better supply, as well as interest from people who don’t usually buy books, such as young men
The sector is dominated by the presence of Audible, Amazon’s audiobook publisher/retailer, which has driven growth of audiobooks but put publishers under pressure. Its strategy is a lesson in Amazon’s approach to media
Audio is an opportunity to sell to new customers, but publishers must acquire and use rights responsibly, and experiment while not letting the audio tail wag the print dog
|Internet, Media, Technology, UK Media||22 August 2018|
Sky 2017/18 full year results: Winning the game of content
Sky maintained strong revenue growth of 5% in 2017/18, with EBITDA and operating profit both bouncing back into strong positive territory after the UK Premier League rights hit of 2016/17
The UK grew revenue well and profits better; Italy performed well and should improve much further given the retreat of its principal competitor; Germany is more challenged, but extra content investment may aid sustained growth
Sky is proving adept at managing content costs and revenue in a changing environment, with investment, cost control and monetisation all being put to effective use as the content type demands it
|Fixed Line, Media, Mobile, Non UK Media, TV, UK Media||16 August 2018|
Virgin Media Q2 2018 results: Measured approach in a tough market
Virgin Media had a mixed quarter, with subscriber ARPU growth maintained, partly driven by a triple play focus with pay TV and telephony adds much improved, but subscriber and broadband net adds unchanged
Cable revenue growth did slow from 3.6% to 3.1%, mainly due to the previous quarter’s net adds slowdown working through, and it is still growing the fastest of the big operators in a slow-growth market that still suffers from pricing pressure at the low end
Its network roll-out was slower than last year and only just above the weather-impacted previous quarter, which appears to be deliberate, and which may at least partly relate to an uncertain regulatory and commercial climate over ‘full fibre’ roll-out by others
|Fixed Line, Media, Telecoms, UK Media||15 August 2018|
Regulating harmful video content and advertising online: Publisher, platform or in between?
Video-sharing platforms, such as YouTube and Facebook video, enjoy a light-touch regulatory regime for harmful content and advertising. As video viewing of non-broadcaster content grows, the regulatory gap between TV broadcasters and video-sharing platforms widens, part of a broader uneven playing field for publishers and platforms.
However, there is momentum against this: the “platforms vs publishers” divide looks set to weaken in EU law, and the platforms themselves are investing more in combatting harmful content within a self-regulatory regime, though their internal policies and outcomes are still opaque.
Effective and fair regulation of video-sharing platforms would involve the balancing of national freedom of speech conventions and the public utility of user-generated video hosting with concerned stakeholder views: something approaching a co-regulatory system for online video-sharing platforms.
|Internet, Media, TV||15 August 2018|
Local TV: Five years after launch
Although launched with an array of public service goals in mind, local TV’s flawed design has created a sector struggling to live up to its optimistic ambitions.
Five years and £37 million of licence fee monies later, it is unclear what public service contributions are being made, or whether the scheme has provided value-for-money. A wholesale review of the sector is urgently needed.
The vision of a “thriving and sustainable” sector has fallen flat. Most licences remain loss-making, with doubts as to their long-term viability. Those operating low-cost models seem best placed to survive.
|Media||14 August 2018|
Consumer magazine publishing: Quality, not quantity
The decline in demand in print presents trading challenges, but the more immediate pressures are on the supply side, with a 15% rise in paper prices accentuating the burden of production and distribution costs
With digital advertising growing at stubbornly low rates, UK publishers need to return to their fundamental consumer-centred strengths by switching their strategic attention towards strong brands, curation, and community
The case for specialist, branded publishing media remains robust: products, services, and consumers are still best brought together in an authoritative, trusted media environment. Advertisers and agencies (and also media) have undervalued the effectiveness of those environments, and direct-to-consumer opportunities have been exaggerated by many brands
|Internet, Media||13 August 2018|
BT Q1 2018/19 results: On target in the short term, making progress for the long term
BT’s Q1 results were fairly robust given a number of one-offs hitting in the quarter, with revenue growth of -2% in line with full year guidance, EBITDA growth of 1% ahead of plan, and a number of metrics looking promising
Openreach’s newly announced volume discount plans offer advantages in growing high and higher speed volumes, infrastructure competitiveness and regulatory pricing pressure, while giving up little in external revenue, a win-win-win for BT at least
Full-fibre regulation appears to be slowly moving towards more clarity, but is still far too unclear to justify an accelerated investment, with critical issues being ducked (for now) by government and Ofcom alike
|Fixed Line, Media, Mobile, Telecoms||3 August 2018|