In this blog post, Mediavision describes the eventful times of consolidation on the global media market, by disentangling the conundrum that is Fox and Sky’s future ownership.
In December 2016, 21st Century Fox made a bid on Europe’s largest pay TV operator Sky to acquire the remaining 61% shares it does not already own of the company. This was the start of what media is referring to as the “bidding war” in which Fox, Comcast and Disney are involved.
Since Fox’ bid on Sky, Disney and Comcast have gotten involved as well. Disney made a $52 bn bid for Fox’ movie and TV sections (including its 39% stake in Sky). Comcast did not only make a bid for Sky (which is 16% higher than Fox’ bid), but also revealed intentions to compete with Disney on acquiring Fox. The proposed mergers are illustrated below.
Figure 1: Current market situation.
Fox’ bid on Sky (in 2016) has been scrutinized by UK:s Ofcom and the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). The potential merger has aroused lots of discussion, mainly around the greater influence and power that the Murdoch family would gain in British media if the bid is approved. Also, Sky News’ editorial independence under the Fox umbrella has been discussed. The Murdoch family owns 39% in both 21st Century Fox and News Corp, the latter which consists of e.g. the newspapers The Times, The Sun and The Sunday Times. However, earlier this week, the British government announced that if Fox were to sell Sky News to Disney, as proposed by Fox, with an agreement to ensure that Sky News is funded for at least 10 years (also offered by Fox earlier on), it would be an effective remedy for the public interest concerns that have been called attention to. The British Secretary of Culture also allowed the Comcast bid to proceed, meaning that there is a set-up for a bidding war between the American giants. Regardless if Fox/Disney or Comcast acquires Sky, the buying company would reach 23 million new Sky customers in Europe. This would of course make any buyer better prepared to compete with challengers like Netflix and Amazon.
But consolidation and mergers is apparently the name of the current game, also in other media/tech related companies. In the US, discussions between CBS and Viacom are on-going and AT&T and Time Warner are waiting for a green light from the US District Court. Locally, Telia and Bonnier Broadcasting have confirmed discussions of a merger and Tele2 and Com Hem are awaiting approval of their merger – a decision is expected in the second half of 2018. Depending on the outcome of these potential mergers, media companies bigger than Netflix, in terms of market capitalization, could be created.
Figure 2: Potential market formation.
The illustration above points at a possible outcome of the mergers as well as the size of these media giants – in market cap with today’s* value. Acquiring Fox would add highly rated assets to Disney – such as the X-Men franchise and The Simpsons – which of course also would strengthen its planned streaming service. Moreover, Disney would also become the majority owner of Hulu. Disney has earlier announced that it is pulling its content from Netflix, and with these new resources it would be better prepared to compete with Netflix.
For Comcast, an acquisition of Sky means that it would be able to grow, while avoiding government scrutiny associated with expanding its US cable business, as it is the largest American cable provider. Also, Sky’s streaming service Now TV with its 2 million subscribers, would grow Comcast’s OTT footprint. Next week, AT&T and Time Warner will receive a decision on their merger plans – an outcome that is likely to influence if Comcast will make an official bid on Fox or not.
Moreover, with the mentioned potential local mergers, the international trend is seemingly spreading to the Nordic countries as well. Yet, as the illustrations show, there remains a major difference in scale between the local and US/UK-based actors.
*Market cap as of June 1st, in some cases of June 4th.
Youtube just announced the release of its Spotify contender, Youtube Music. The service is coming to the Nordic countries in the coming weeks.
To illustrate the potential threat this poses to existing music streaming services we have provided an example of the potential impact this might have:
Spotify reported 75 mn premium subscribers out of a total monthly user base of 170 mn globally in Q1 2018. This corresponds to a subscriber share of 44 percent of the total user base. Youtube recently announced a monthly logged in user base of 1.8 bn, worldwide. Now if Youtube Music was to reach a similar share of paying subscribers out of that user base as Spotify, Youtube’s music service would reach approx 790 mn paying subscribers globally.
Now, Spotify mentions in the prospect before its DPO on the New York Stock Exchange that it accounted for around 95% of the Swedish music streaming market in 2017. Considering that Youtube has roughly 3 mn monthly viewers (15-74 yrs) in Sweden, the launch of Youtube Music may pose a considerable threat to Spotify’s dominating market position.Read more
Another season of Swedish public service broadcaster SVT’s Melodifestivalen has come to an end. We congratulate the favorite Benjamin Ingrosso that will compete for Sweden with the winning song Dance You Off at the Eurovision Song Contest in Lisbon in May.
The six broadcasted programs 2018 (four qualifying rounds, a semifinal and final) attracted 3 million viewers on average (OV; 3 042’), which is the lowest viewing since the format was introduced 2002 (excluding 2010 which was marginally lower; 3 017’ on average). The entirety was weighed down by this year’s semifinal, which dipped to all time low ratings. The final, however, acted counter-weight with an audience of 3 500’. Comparing the average of this year’s six shows to overall viewing 2018 so far (-6% YOY), Mello-viewing declined more; -9%.
In addition, average age of the Melodifestivalen audience is basically unchanged at 45 since 2002, in contrast to traditional TV in general where the average age has increased from 47 to 55 since 2002 to 2017 (and 2018 YTD). Despite decreasing ratings for all target groups, Melodifestivalen manages to retain a fairly homogeneous audience. The show still attracts a significant portion of younger viewers yet to leave traditional TV; the final 2018 attracted an audience share of over 90% among 15-24 year-olds.
SVT Play however noted an increase in viewership for the Melodifestivalen finals, compared to 2017. Saturday’s web audience amounted to 110’, twice the amount of 2017. But despite the hefty increase, web audience remains insignificant compared to traditional. Melodifestivalen is without a doubt biggest on large screen and linear viewing. In other words, Melodifestivalen is not affected by the digital migration in the same way as apparent elsewhere in media. It is rather the opposite – Melodifestivalen is a highly reliable tent-pole in a time when interest for TV is in decline and the audience aging.
SVT has furthermore expanded its content offering with Melodifestivalen peripherals; back-stage-reportage, interviews, panel discussions, artists and performance curiosity etc. Viewing on this content has however been modest. The most started program or show during Saturday (the day of the final) was the actual program; 500’ starts. Succeeding was the clip of Ingrossos winning performance with close to 60’ starts. The same clip was also distributed through the Melodifestivalen channel on Youtube, which after two days almost reached 500’ views. Clip interested target groups thereby don’t turn, despite improved content offering, to SVT Play but to global giants such as Youtube.Read more
Zooming in on the Nordic market, Mediavision’s analysis “Nordic e-sports & gaming Insight 2017/2018” shows that e-sports is becoming a staple among consumers. Almost 3 in 4 e-sports/gaming viewers in the Nordics (73%) stated an interest in a specific e-sports venue (for example Dreamhack) in Q4 2017. This shows that the venues themselves have become popular, and e-sports is no longer simply “games played professionally” but an entire eco-system of value creation, for consumers and actors alike. If you wish to gain more insights on the subject, please contact us or order the analysis right away.
On a global scale, e-sports has been making waves as well. Traditional sports actors are also getting in on the action. This can, for example, be illustrated by how Turner Broadcasting and IMG’s e-sports tournament series Eleague is marketed to viewers. For instance, much like in professional traditional sports, Turner has promoted Eleague by building personalities and generating storylines around teams and players. And evidently this is paying off; Eleague recently, during an event in Boston, broke the record for most concurrent viewers (1.1 million on Amazon-owned platform Twitch). The event was featuring games publisher Valve’s first-person-shooter-game Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO).
While Eleague is proof that a tournament series outside of traditional sports can be commercially successful, the e-sports scene is still very much under construction. Major League Baseball is one of the traditional sports actors that is looking at the e-sports market. However, Jamie Leece, VP of games and virtual reality at MLB Advanced Media, expresses concern regarding the profitability of e-sports contests. He points out that the products and organizations around e-sports can profit, but that the contests themselves are still struggling. Leagues and IP holders have yet to solve the puzzle, according to Leece.
Turner and IMG might be on track to success with Eleague. But game publisher Blizzard Entertainment has taken another approach; creating its own e-sports league in-house for its blockbuster game Overwatch. Inspired by the strategy of Eleague, Blizzard has also adopted the proven format of traditional broadcasting when creating Overwatch League. The teams are tied to geographical regions with names such as Seoul Dynasty, London Spitfire and Florida Mayhem. Also, while fighting games are more of a niche market, games publisher Capcom, best known for the Street Fighter series, has been hosting its own in-house league Capcom Pro Tour since 2013. If these moves prove successful, and the price of distribution rights continues to increase, more publishers might follow.
However, breaking into to the upper echelon of e-sports is no small feat. For years the same titles have comfortably topped the viewing lists (Valve’s CS:GO and Dota 2 and Riot Games’ League of Legends). It has taken hard work and huge investments for the publisher Blizzard to finally launch its own in-house-league. Overwatch is one of few games to really rival the top e-sports titles in popularity. The success of Overwatch could set an example for other publishers, but most likely in-house and independent leagues will co-exist.Read more
The Mediavision Swedish TV Insight Q4 analysis, published Feb 1:st, once again points at the rapid growth of the OTT market. Viewing, subscribing households, market value – all major KPI:s of the OTT business are pointing in the same upward direction. As stated in the latest press release; yet another record level for SVOD was noted, with a 41% household penetration. Global (or, rather US) actors are still leading the game, with a combined market share of 65% for Netflix and HBO Nordic. And this is higher than last year – indicating some tough challenges for at least some of the locals going forward.
Looking at the consumers, fiction is still the most popular genre – by far – gathering nearly 50% of all time spent watching online video. And it may not come as a surprise that 80% of this viewing time is allocated to foreign content. Entertainment, bulk in traditional TV, is only a fraction in OTT and accounts for a modest 10% of all online video consumption. In contrast to fiction, local services are taking a big slice of the pie in this genre; approx. 70% of the OTT viewing in entertainment is in Swedish.
So, what could be the implications looking at 2018?
First, we already see an increasing supply of both local and international fiction. The market is more competitive and consumers more sophisticated than before. The global giants are directing larger investments into locally produced content, for instance Netflix’ Q4 report points at the around-the-globe success of local originals such as German Dark, Brazilian 3%, and Italian Suburra. In the pipeline for 2018 is more than 30 new local originals. The entertainment genre, though, appears to be significantly less interesting for the big dragons. This leaves room for local players. A not-so-wild guess is that traditional broadcasters will push all sorts of non-fiction genres during 2018. However, time spent on non-fiction in OTT, will most likely not be of any comparable size to traditional TV. A big question will also be how non-fiction can help drive consumption in general and subscriber numbers specifically.
To meet the increasing demand of insights regarding both viewing and subscriptions, Mediavision is now launching a new service The Inventory Insight. It will be key to fully understand how content and content inventory is correlating to viewing and subscriptions. The Inventory Insight is a quarterly analysis covering all content across AVOD, SVOD and TVOD across the Nordics – to facilitate strategic positioning on the increasingly competitive market of online video.Read more
Since the start of 2018, the e-sports industry has seen several major market events. Globally, Turner and WME/IMG owned Eleague has both sold exclusive streaming rights to Amazon’s Twitch and broken viewership records on the same platform, with 1.1 million concurrent viewers. Activision Blizzard’s long anticipated Overwatch League is now entering its third week since launch after reaching 10 million viewers in its first week – following a 90 MUSD distribution deal on Twitch. And on the Nordic market, Danish Yousee recently signed a deal to become the main sponsor and distributor of the official Danish e-sports league “Esportligaen”.
Additionally, according to Mediavision’s Q4 2017 analysis, viewer demographics of e-sports content is broadening. The average age remains stable on a yearly basis at 31 years, while the share of female viewers increased from approximately 1 in 10 to almost 3 in 10.
The increased interest among a broadening consumer base is certainly a factor which has contributed to exclusive content rights becoming more coveted. Also, the fact that several distribution platforms want to position themselves in the e-sports arena (eg Twitch, Youtube and Facebook) means that the competition over rights increases as well – something that become more apparent in the past couple of years.
The development on the e-sports and gaming market is analyzed in-depth in Mediavision’s “Nordic e-sports & gaming insight”. The emphasis of the analysis is on consumer and market insights on the Nordic market – with a focus on Sweden. If you want a deeper understanding of where the e-sports and gaming markets are heading in 2018 and forward, we suggest you contact us or pre-order the analysis today.Read more
The Swedish OTT market 2017-2018 was discussed on the Mediavision breakfast seminar in Stockholm wednesday (January 24)th,.
As we have reported earlier, OTT has grown considerably over the last years. One of the main driving forces is high quality content. Mediavision can now conclude that Q4 2017 daily OTT reach (15-74-year olds) has reached a level of 43%. There are also clear indications that the market is maturing; audiences are getting a little older and consume a somewhat wider range of content. Global giants still dominate both AVOD and SVOD. Mediavision predicts that 2018 will be yet another strong year for OTT, with even tougher competition (in an already quite tough market).
For the local OTT services, run by owners such as e g Bonnier, MTG and SVT, one of the big questions is how to respond to the pressure from the American streaming companies and their enormous content budgets. Netflix said in its Q4 report on Monday, that it added a record breaking 8.3 million new subscribers globally, allowing an even higher content spend this year (approx. 8 bn USD). Clearly, the locals’ need to differentiate and spend their money wisely.
In order to support its’ clients in this work, Mediavision – in collaboration with Playpilot – yesterday announced a new quarterly analysis The Inventory Insight. It is a data driven content analysis focusing on the supply side of all major OTT services in the Nordics.
The breakfast seminar also catered for a panel discussion looking at 2018. Lena Glaser, programming director at SVT, Mathias Berg, operative manager at Bonnier Broadcasting, Fredrik Ljungberg, programming director at Viaplay, all gave their views on the challenges of being a local service in a highly competitive market. The panel agreed that local content, local language and local presence are key assets. And, according to the panelists, having a linear TV business is still very important.Read more
During 2016 the Swedish influencer market had a turnover of 500 MSEK, according to IRM. This corresponds to a growth by 40%, double that of overall digital advertising revenues at around 20% growth for 2016. No figures have yet been released for 2017, but the market is likely to have grown further. And 2018 has already delivered one major industry event. German media giant Bertelsmann finally made an entry on the Nordic market by acquiring Swedish YouTube and influencer network United Screens for 120 million SEK. Looking forward, another major event is the upcoming winter Olympics, in which Discovery Networks has focused on integrating influencers in their coverage of the games. During the Olympics, influencers will be seen in both traditional outlets as well as in Snapchat, after Discovery struck a deal with the social media company in October of last year.
Furthermore, there are other signs that indicate an upswing for influencer marketing. Last week Facebook announced an update to its news feed algorithm, saying that it would now prioritize posts made by friends and family higher than those from brands and companies. Mark Zuckerberg explained that the feedback they have gotten from the community indicates that posts from media, brands and companies take up too much space in the news feed at the expense of moments that connect users to each other. He also added that he expects people to spend less time in total on the Facebook platform as a result, but that the time spent will be perceived as more valuable. Advertisements are not directly affected, but less time spent on Facebook means less exposure to ads. If companies who rely heavily on Facebook for advertising start to receive less traffic as a cause of this change, they might have to look elsewhere. Some have already expressed their concerns on the matter. This could provide an opportunity for influencers as their posts will not be affected negatively by the update.
Lastly, YouTube had several run-ins with advertisers during 2017 in regard to ads being displayed in inappropriate contexts. This caused several companies to pull their ads off YouTube. The company has since taken steps toward being perceived as brand-safe. Recently YouTube announced that it is raising the bar for channels to be able to monetize their videos, thus kicking out thousands of smaller content creators from its advertising program in the process – meaning more leverage for already established influencers.
All in all, things are continuing to look up for the influencer community and 2018 is set to set a new record year for the market.Read more
Looking back on 2017, the digital transition of consumers in video is going strong, especially in the older age groups who are becoming ever more frequent users of streaming services. Amongst the young, a clear majority are frequent users of on demand services. In the 15-24 age bracket, 70 percent of time spent viewing is on demand. The dominance of on demand viewing in the younger age groups comes as no surprise, however the real challenge comes as older age groups start to radically change their consumption habits.
The American giants often referred to as “FAANG” (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google) dominate the market. Combined, Netflix and Google/YouTube accumulated more than half of all on demand viewing in the Nordics during 2017 while local actors had to make due with what was left. And we have yet to really see the likes of Amazon or Facebook Watch on the Nordic market. Disney, on the other hand, is most definitely preparing to make a move. Bob Iger closed out 2017 by acquiring a large stake in Murdoch’s 21 Century Fox for $66 bn, which gives Disney access to a gargantuan library of content rights as well as the American streaming service Hulu. Conclusion 1: The American giants will most likely continue to dominate during 2018. Which in turn poses the perhaps biggest challenge for the local media actors.
Despite the media ownership being globalized and moving west, the picture is not as clear when it comes to content. On one hand: A clear majority of the viewing on streaming services’ 2017 was spent on foreign content. On the other hand: The American giants are increasingly interested in locally produced content. Netflix has recently been stepping up their production of non-American content with productions such as Italian series Suburra, Swedish Quicksand, German DARK, Brazilian 3% and Danish The Rain. According to Netflix’ head of content Ted Sarandos, Netflix’ strategy for 2018 is to ramp up the production of local content. HBO Nordic is jumping on the bandwagon as well. Swedish director Lukas Moodysson is set to produce a series called Gösta. To the consumers’ delight local streaming actors are ramping up their production as well. Both public service and commercial actors are putting money toward local drama and sports, among other things. Collaborations between companies are becoming more frequent, as a pragmatic way of solving the increasing costs of a global arena. Conclusion 2: Consumers rejoice! 2018 is looking to be a year of content in abundance.
So, what does the crystal ball tell us about 2018? So far, this year has shown two different but important structural changes, and that is just in its first two weeks. They might provide a hint of where we are heading. European media conglomerate RTL acquired United Screens on January 9th and Com Hem – Tele2 announced a merger on January 10th. These two events indicate that size matters in today’s media industry. To create scalable economic advantages is the obvious goal for companies who directly target consumers. Add to that a strong economy, large sporting events (Olympics and FIFA World Cup) and even a general election. All the ingredients for excitement and large media events are in place for 2018.
Another question that needs answering, and that is being asked by many, is how local and traditional actors can establish a long-term advantageous position for themselves? The cost of technology, marketing and customer management is huge. Not to mention the cost of strong and well-made content…
Mediavision estimates that close to 5 million Nordic households will have at least one paid on demand streaming service at the end of 2018. Usage of ad-funded services is quickly rising as well. Altogether, another year of strong growth for OTT – but with the majority of revenue going to global actors. At the same time, the traditional streams of revenue (advertising and pay TV) are being stretched thin. Conclusion 3: Based on this, we are likely to see more restructuring in the Nordics of the same kind that started off the year. Perhaps, a couple of unexpected collaborations might pop up. “Bigger is better” seems to be the way to deal with the competition from the American giants.
Regarding the consumers, the future is easier to predict. 2018 will be a year of extraordinarily strong supply – qualitatively better and more abundant than ever before. Seldom has so much great content been produced and made available to so many. Welcome 2018!
CEO MediavisionRead more
2017 will go to history as one of the most eventful years that the Swedish gambling market has ever experienced. Primarily, this is due to the governmental inquiry that was presented March 31, including recommendations for a future market regulation. In short, the commission suggests a licensing system, in which gambling operators can apply for licenses to offer certain gambling types to Swedish consumers. If everything goes according to plan, 2018 will mark the last year with the current regulation in place, as the suggested implementation of the new system is in January 2019.
The main incentive for the Swedish government to get the licensing system in place is, arguably, the increasing size of non-Sweden regulated operators on the Swedish market. With the current system, the government is without both control and potential tax income from operators not regulated in Sweden.
With that said, Sweden regulated actors, such as horse racing monopolist ATG and state-owned Svenska Spel, still control a clear majority of the Swedish gambling market. As an example of their strong position, ATG accounted for 90 percent of all gambling spend on horse racing during the past year, according to Mediavision’s analysis.
However, ATG has found it difficult to persuade the younger generation of gamblers to place their bets on horses, a potential future worry. And in other gambling verticals, Svenska Spel is already suffering from much fiercer competition. In the sports betting vertical, Svenska Spel “only” took approximately 40 percent of all gambling spend during 2017, according to Mediavision. The other 60 percent was captured by brands regulated outside of Sweden, such as Unibet, Bet365 and Betsson.
All in all, aggregated market growth is fully captured by operators regulated outside of Sweden. This is partly reflected in recent customer account registrations. According to Mediavision’s gambling analysis of 2017, 62 percent of all gambling accounts registered during the past 12 months were with non-Sweden regulated brands.
This is one part of the explanation as to why Sweden regulated operators have been fairly positive towards the commission’s suggestion overall, as it will open up the current system, where certain categories of gambling are not fully permitted. This is perhaps most evident for online casino, as no Sweden regulated operator is allowed to provide this gambling form under the current legislation. Following the commission’s suggestion, ATG recently made a notable M&A move, as the horse racing monopolist signed a conditional agreement to acquire Danish online casino and sportsbook operator Ecosys once the new regulation is in place.
Non-Sweden regulated operators have also been largely positive towards the commission’s suggestion, overall. This is partly due to the improved marketing opportunities that come with the suggested system. The group would get access to all available advertising platforms, be able to offer sponsorships and to expand collaborations with Google and Facebook.
Ahead of the expected reregulation, there is an aggressive race for market shares going on among the many actors on the Swedish gambling market, to obtain the best possible position going forward. Before the dust settles, we are likely to see more company acquisitions and mergers, in order for actors to solidify their positions and to leverage their customer bases. As the market matures and new structures fall in place, there will need to be an increased focus on customer retention rather than acquisition, and on decreasing costs rather than just increasing revenue.
In other words, the upcoming few years will probably be just as interesting and eventful as 2017 for the Swedish gambling market.Read more
On the Nordic TV market, traditional TV viewing continues down the path of decline during fall 2017. The waning viewer interest in broadcast TV is part of an overall trend, with consumers shifting to online. But viewership in 2017 has also taken a hit due to the lack of major sporting events. 2016 housed both the UEFA Euros and the summer Olympics in Rio. Looking towards 2018, viewership is expected to be affected positively by both the winter Olympics and the FIFA World cup. Nordic countries represented in the World Cup are Denmark, Iceland and Sweden, while the winter Olympics is expected to draw massive interest from both Finland and Norway.
On the other hand, online video consumption continues to grow across all age groups. Among young (15-24 year-olds), two thirds of total daily video viewing time (traditional TV + online video) was spent on online video services. Online video consumption is also displaying strong growth in older age groups. Across all Nordic markets, the older age segments represent the largest relative online video viewing growth during fall 2017.
Also, consumers continue to prefer global over local. In terms of subscription video on demand (SVOD) services, global actors Netflix and HBO Nordic dominate. Meanwhile, Netflix and Youtube account for more than half of all online video viewing across the Nordics. Amazon Prime Video has yet to make an impact on the Nordic market, but are expected to further increase competition once they decide to enter the region fully (i.e. Amazon Marketplace and Prime).
Mediavision follows the Nordic media industry, with a focus on video, in the bi-annual analysis Nordic Video Insight. Click here to learn more.Read more
In an attempt to combat problems related to the past year’s advertiser boycott, Google stated that it is hiring thousands of new workers to review content on the platform. This came as a direct response to the critique regarding Youtube as an advertiser friendly video service, a debate which recently resurfaced. Several big companies joined the boycott as their ads had been placed next to videos containing inappropriate elements, verified by Youtube’s algorithm.
Youtube started off in 2005 as a video service centered around user generated content (UGC) that anyone could upload, share, and comment on. While this still holds true, the introduction of video ads in 2007 meant content was in a larger need of scrutiny, as the tonality and freedom of the internet often does not correspond to what is considered advertiser friendly. Today, it is evident that Google is making an effort to create a more advertiser friendly video service, something that is negatively affecting business for the “traditional” UGC side of Youtube. This conflict, which is also known as the adpocalypse, has meant a significant decrease in ad revenue, especially for the more “edgy” channels. Advertisers have been given more freedom to choose in what type of context their ads will be placed – thus steering away from content including profanity or sensitive issues. This move is arguably pushing creators to other services, eg Amazon’s Twitch and potentially Facebook Watch. Despite this, Youtube continues to grow as it transitions from UGC to AVOD. Being ranked the 2nd most visited website (after Google) in 2017, its bargaining power as an advertising platform remains strong. On home turf, Mediavision’s latest analysis of the Swedish video market shows Youtube as the country’s most viewed online video service – in all age groups, with an increased preference among young.
A similar controversy has been surrounding video content on Facebook during the past year, with advertisers questioning the robustness of Facebook’s content verification procedures. Facebook has also announced hiring more people for manual review of advertisements, following the Russian involvement in the US presidential election through Facebook ads. Furthermore, with the introduction of video ads in 2014, and mid-roll ads in the beginning of 2017, Facebook began a similar journey to that of Youtube – from UGC to AVOD. However, unlike Youtube, Facebook has not focused primarily on video from the beginning. Thus, Facebook has been able to work with issues regarding content review while the video vertical is still a rather small-scale enterprise compared to that of Youtube. The introduction of Facebook Watch on the US market in August, marks a clear approach to video; ie separating the more free form UGC from the more commercially produced content included under the Watch tab. Facebook Watch is seemingly looking to emulate a more traditional broadcasting approach to its ad business, according to reports from the service’s potential ad buyers.
Since Facebook Watch has yet to spread outside the US, a Nordic comparison with Youtube is not possible. The question remains whether Facebook will be able to challenge Youtube’s position as the dominant AVOD service for advertisers in the Nordics. Yet, focusing on the Nordic markets, Mediavision is following the progression of these services in relation to consumer interest, overall video consumption and market growth.Read more
On the other side of the Atlantic, mergers and acquisitions within the media industry continue to make headlines. One is AT&T’s purchase of Time Warner that is being blocked by the US Justice Department (DOJ) on antitrust grounds. Another is the potential sale of 21st Century Fox. Due to the recent impediments in the AT&T-Time Warner merger, speculations have arisen that this would negatively impact the interest from Comcast, Disney, and Sony in continuing their pursuit of a Fox deal. However, according to sources, talks are still ongoing between Fox and Comcast, as well as with Disney. Furthermore, AT&T and Time Warner have extended their merger agreement, from end-of-year 2017, to April 22nd. Before then, AT&T intends to “vigorously contest the DOJ’s allegations” and expresses confidence to win in court; ultimately resulting in a successful merger of the two companies.
On home turf, both local and global VOD actors continue to invest in Nordic drama. Most recently, Hulu acquired the US distribution rights to Midnattssol (Sweden) and Gidseltagningen (Denmark). Meanwhile, public service broadcaster SVT and MTG’s leading local SVOD service Viaplay, who jointly produce the high-profile drama series “Vår tid är nu”, announced that the series will be renewed for a third season. The announcement was made even though the first season has yet to reach its conclusion. This is akin to Netflix’s strategy of greenlighting multiple seasons of new drama series in advance, something which is relatively new to the Swedish market. It remains to be seen whether the series will attract interest from abroad; something SVT and Viaplay would no doubt welcome.
In other news, linking back to our last newsletter (17th November); the single most popular e-sports event franchise among Swedes is coming to Stockholm: Dreamhack. Meanwhile, Dreamhack owner MTG has set up a new $30 million investment fund, specifically targeting smaller companies in e-sports, online gaming and game-focused virtual and augmented reality.Read more
The Swedish gambling authority Lotteriinspektionen has yet again reported that gambling operators regulated abroad have increased their share of the Swedish market. According to Lotteriinspektionen, non-Sweden regulated operators, who offer their products exclusively online, currently command 25% of the Swedish gambling market (gross winnings revenue). For the first three quarters of 2017, the overall market increased by 3% compared to the same period last year. In this period, non-Sweden regulated operators grew by 11% while operators regulated in Sweden reported zero growth as a group. Thus, the proposition to implement a new license-based system in Sweden, encouraging foreign-based companies to move to Sweden and operate under Swedish regulations, is becoming ever more urgent. The current goal is to have a new system in place by January 1, 2019.
However, not only operators regulated abroad are growing online. Operators regulated in Sweden are also increasingly positioning themselves online. During the first three quarters of 2017, state-owned Svenska Spel saw an increase in online revenue by 15% while land-based gambling revenue decreased by 5%. Similarly, horse racing monopolist ATG saw an increase in online gambling revenue by 16% and a decrease in land-based gambling revenue by 8%.
While the aim of a future license system certainly is to attract foreign-based operators targeting the Swedish market to also move to Sweden, the rapid shift to online gambling could actually have the opposite effect, incentivizing currently Sweden-regulated operators to set up shop off-shore instead (e.g. Malta).
Examples of the latter have recently occurred in the Netherlands, another European gambling market in a similar situation. Just like in Sweden, a new gambling regulatory system is proposed to be in effect by January 2019. The proposed system will make it possible for off-shore gambling operators to apply for a license from Kansspelautoritet, the gambling regulatory body in the Netherlands. Licensees will then enjoy all the perks that come with a license, at the cost of paying Dutch company taxes on their gross earnings revenue instead of Maltese taxes (for instance). On the other hand, operators who are already regulated in the Netherlands might be able to move the bulk of their business elsewhere, since a prerequisite for obtaining a Dutch online gambling license is to only have some form of physical presence in the country.
As a result, several incumbents are now preparing their move to Malta, making the island their base ahead of January 2019. Depending on what is considered sufficient to meet the Dutch requirement of a “physical presence”, it might potentially sway operators towards fully operating under a Maltese gambling license, and not a Dutch one. This is certainly an unintended effect of the proposed gambling regulatory system in the Netherlands, as it would be in Sweden.
Mediavision continues to follow the development of the Swedish gambling market closely. In December 2017, a full-year analysis of the Swedish gambling industry will be published, focusing in particular on the online and foreign-based operators.Read more
October was an eventful month in the world of e-sports with a multitude of events and tournaments. Major events included League of Legends World Championship (LoL WC) 2017, DreamHack Denver 2017, EPICENTER 2017 and 2017 ESL One Hamburg. The latter attracted 20,000 on site visitors and 25 million unique online viewers worldwide over two days (October 28-29), corresponding to a 250% increase in viewership compared to the previous ESL One in Frankfurt 2016. These numbers were achieved through broadcasting the event on multiple video streaming platforms, such as Twitch and the Chinese service HuomaoTV, but also through pushing video content on social media like Facebook and Twitter. Clips on social media generated 38 million impressions from around 8 million unique users for ESL One Hamburg content, an increase by 50% compared to ESL One in Frankfurt 2016.
Mediavision has been following the development of Nordic e-sports, both the consumption and the market, for some time (see the 2016/17 E-sports/gaming analysis). Our most recent analysis shows that among popular e-sports events, tournaments, and leagues, DreamHack is rated the most appealing by Swedish e-sports and gaming viewers. Approximately 3 out of 10 viewers state interest in following the event. This interest was reflected during DreamHack Masters Malmö, held in late September through to October 2017. DreamHack viewership broke previous records with 31 million unique viewers worldwide, thus becoming the most viewed DreamHack event to date. Other recent events, such as LoL WC 2017, scored lower in terms of interest among Swedish consumers of e-sports/gaming, despite being a far more popular event worldwide.
In 2016, the finals of LoL WC reached 43 million unique viewers – a number very likely to have been beaten by this year’s edition of the tournament, which ended November 4. Viewership figures for LoL WC 2017 are expected to be announced in the next few weeks. Overall, new record-breaking viewership numbers across the board solidify the view of e-sports as a global phenomenon that is rapidly gaining momentum, and becoming ever more commercialized. However, despite being an inherently digital and global market, e-sports does have certain local niches – one being Swedes’ preference for DreamHack. As the industry keeps growing and maturing, local markets and preferences will no doubt be of increased importance.Read more
Ericsson recently published its annual ConsumerLab report. In the report, Ericsson reveals a positive outlook on the future of virtual reality (VR) – and specifically its role in video on-demand (VOD) viewing. According to the report, which includes respondents from over 40 countries, the global penetration of VR devices is roughly at 10%, and 25% of respondents plan to get one (some of which already have one, i.e. not only non-holders). In comparison, according to Mediavision’s analysis, during the third quarter of 2017, VR device penetration among Swedish households was at approximately 8%. This corresponds to an increase of +14% since the fourth quarter of 2016.
Among other things, Ericsson’s report points towards the social aspect that VR can bring to video on-demand (VOD) viewing, for instance being in the audience of a VR concert with other VR users. However, for consumer interest to really take off, there are still several obstacles holding VR back, such as headsets being prohibitively expensive and limited content. According to the report, a third of consumers would be more interested in VR if their TV and video provider offered a VR content bundle, something which is yet to be seen. And even though Ericsson is optimistic about the prospects of VR to pick up the pace, not everyone seems to share the analysis. A few days ago, Nokia announced they are to cease production of their VR camera Ozo, only launched last year, parting ways with 310 employees in the process.
As discussed in an earlier blog post, augmented reality (AR) currently seems a likelier market to take off rather than VR. However, some of the issues with VR are being addressed and the market is getting more competitive, despite Nokia handing over the reins to others. With the increased competition, more consumer-friendly VR devices are now popping up. Facebook is launching a stand-alone version of their Oculus headset called Oculus Go at a lower price than its predecessor, and without the need for expensive hardware to run it. Also, Microsoft is launching a range of mixed reality headsets from different PC manufacturers like Dell, Hewlett-Packard and Lenovo – increasing competition and opening up for a less expensive VR experience than competitors like Sony, Oculus, and HTC Vive.
Based on recent events, the next step for gargantuan OTT actors, like Netflix and Amazon, to conquer even larger market shares seems to be locally produced content. The trend of streaming giants producing local content is certainly gaining momentum. Netflix’ first Italian original production, Suburra, premieres today (October 6th). The series is produced by Cattleya, the same company that created Gomorrah, which premieres its third season later this fall on HBO Nordic.
Furthermore, having recently announced Nordic original Störst av allt (Quicksand), Netflix is clearly making strides in Europe. But the trend is catching on closer to its US home turf too. Netflix has struck a deal with a Canadian organization to spend $500 million on local programming over a five-year period and set up a Canadian production company, aptly called Netflix Canada. According to Mediavision, approximately half of all upcoming Netflix original productions (as of September 2017) are local productions, i.e. produced outside of the U.S.
Amazon also walks along the path of “glocalization”, just having announced its first UK original drama production called Fearless. Fearless is a legal conspiracy thriller starring Helen McCrory and Michael Gambon produced by Mammoth Screen.
In other news, the top 3 social media platforms among Nordic users; Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, have all launched new functionalities. Snapchat continues to add to their AR offer with an integrated art viewing functionality. Instagram releases clickable ads in posts, facilitating sales of clothing, for instance, seen in pictures on Instagram. Facebook announced they will hire 1,000 new people to review ads, in an attempt to make it more difficult for advertisers and organizations to manipulate Facebook’s ad platform. This news came shortly after Facebook disclosed that fake Russian-backed accounts purchased about $150,000 of political ads between 2015 and 2017, a lot of which was aimed at influencing voters in the 2016 US presidential election.Read more
Foreign based gambling operators, such as Bet365, Kindred (Unibet parent) and Betsson are commanding a continuously bigger slice of the Swedish gambling market pie. According to Sweden’s gambling authority, Lotteriinspektionen, the foreign based firms grew their total gross winnings revenue (turnover after payout of gamblers’ winnings) by 17 percent during H1 2017 on a yearly basis, obtaining a 24% share of the Swedish market. At the same time, operators regulated in Sweden, such as Svenska Spel and ATG, reported neither positive nor negative growth, thus losing in market shares.
Ahead of the upcoming re-regulation of the Swedish gambling industry, there is an ongoing race among the many different stakeholders on the market to position themselves, leading to extensive marketing campaigns and a strong focus on customer acquisition and engagement. In this post, we will take a closer look at the two most important gambling verticals for foreign based operators, i.e. online casino and sports betting.
Mediavision has previously noted that the online casino vertical currently works as the main growth engine among foreign based operators. This is consistent with reports from the two biggest publicly listed foreign based operators, Kindred and Betsson, as both have a majority share of their gross winnings revenue generated by casino games, at 51 and 74 percent respectively, during Q2 2017.
However, several casino focused operators, such as Leovegas and Mr Green, have started to put an increased emphasis on sports betting, both having launched their sportsbooks late in H1 2016. Most major foreign based operators now offer both casino games and sports betting, attempting to cater to a broader audience (increased own customer base) and to satisfy a greater range of their own players’ gambling demands (increased ARPU). This is certainly also true for other gambling verticals, mainly bingo, poker and horse racing, although to a lesser extent.
One reason for gambling operators to offer both casino and sports betting is age. During the first half of 2017, both foreign based sports betting (i.e. excluding Svenska Spel) and online casino generated 4 percent in monthly reach among 18-74-year-old Swedes, respectively, according to Mediavision’s data. However, among young (18-24) foreign based sports betting attracted 6% on a monthly basis, compared to 4% for online casino. This suggests that offering sportsbooks has a greater potential as a gateway to attract the youngest group of gamblers to your own brand.
This far, the overlap of online casino gamblers and sports punters (Svenska Spel excluded) is relatively small. During the first half of 2017, approximately a fifth of all who gambled on foreign based sports betting also gambled on online casino, and vice versa, during an average month. As several big brands become less niched, specialized primarily in one gambling vertical, and move towards becoming more of full-service, one-stop shops for punters, the aim is surely to increase these customer overlaps.
Currently, gambler overlaps vary significantly among different brands. Overall, top sports brands, such as Bet365 and Unibet, display a relatively low share of sports punters who also gamble on casino (both at approximately 10 percent) while big casino oriented brands, such as Leovegas and Mr Green, display shares of 20 percent and upwards. However, the share of casino gamblers that also gambled on sports is much higher for Bet365 and Unibet compared to competitors. Approximately 30 percent of casino gamblers on Bet365 and Unibet also gambled on sports via the same brand. In other words, all operators currently have the potential to improve overall engagement and gambling activity in their own customer bases.Read more
The annual Emmy Awards was held for the 69th time Sunday night. Hulu became the first ever purely digital actor to win the prestigious Outstanding Drama Series award for “The Handmaid’s Tale”. In total, Hulu won 10 awards out of 18 nominations, while Netflix and HBO won 20 and 29 awards respectively – racking up more than 200 nominations combined. Thus, it is evident that the streaming services are climbing ever closer to the upper echelons of Hollywood.
However, the streaming giants certainly wish to conquer more than just Hollywood. Both Netflix and HBO recently announced that they are drawing closer to start producing original series in the Nordics. Netflix’s first Nordic original is based on Malin Persson Giolito’s novel “Störst av allt” (called “Quicksand”). Scriptwriter is Camilla Ahlgren, who has previously worked on successful TV series “Bron”, with FLX set to produce the series. HBO’s new original series, “Gösta”, is written and to be directed by Swedish filmmaker Lukas Moodysson. Memfis Film will produce the series, which starts shooting next year. In other words, Nordic local TV and film awards, such as Swedish “Kristallen”, might also be subject for competition from the global actors moving forward.
These announcements follow what has previously been communicated by company representatives. During Goldman Sach’s annual Communacopia Conference, Netflix CFO David Wells spoke of the growing consumer interest in content produced in other parts of the world. Furthermore, the chief content officer of Netflix, Ted Sarandos, mentioned in an interview with Variety that the company is looking to go from producing 17 local (i.e. non-American) series this year, to creating somewhere between 70 and 100 within the next couple of years.Read more
A few days ago, Apple held its keynote during which the company released several new products and a brand-new focus on augmented reality (AR). Rather than virtual reality (VR), AR has proven to be the technology of choice for both Facebook and Snapchat – and now Apple.
According to Mediavision, approximately 7% of Nordic HHs have a VR device today, showing no growth so far during 2017. Thus, the Nordic VR market has yet to take off. Considering Apple being the market leading brand for both smartphones and tablets in the Nordics, Mediavision believes that the company focus on AR has the potential of being the spark that ignites a new mainstream consumer market with AR.
First Nordic company to try to capitalize on this development is Ikea, which recently announced the app; Ikea Place. Together with Apple, Ikea has developed an AR app to be released on September 19th which lets the user place furniture in the space in front of them using the camera on their Iphone/Ipad. Ikea expects this will boost sales as an increasing number of consumers are introduced to the technology of AR.
Moving forward, we will most likely see more commercial uses for AR technology. The Nordic consumers’ interest is surely set to peak as AR becomes readily available in peoples’ smartphones and tablets – reaching a majority of the Nordic population virtually instantaneously.
Mediavision follows the media industry development with a focus on digital media on the Nordic markets. We perform personalized projects and thorough analyses (many of which are found under Publications).Read more
The Swedish games industry has an impressive track record, including some of the world’s most popular gaming franchises, eg Minecraft and Battlefield. Much thanks to these games, the Swedish games market’s development has been explosive over the past few years. Swedish game developers generated a total revenue of more than 12 bn SEK (1.3 bn EUR) during 2016, according to The Swedish Games Industry. As a comparative example, this corresponds to more than half the size of the entire Swedish TV market in 2016 (22.6 bn SEK).
*Annual average exchange rates as reported by Riksbanken.
Source: The Swedish Games Industry
Compared to just four years ago, revenues have increased by approximately +250%, corresponding to a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of +32% since 2012. Meanwhile, becoming an increasingly mature market, profit margins have also increased drastically during the same period. In 2016, the accumulated profit amounted to more than 8 bn SEK, corresponding to a profit margin of 66%, according to The Swedish Games Industry.
Over the past few years, the Swedish games industry has produced several AAA games (games with a high budget, comparable to blockbuster movies), while a globalized market and digitalized distribution has paved the way for more indie developers to reach out with their games as well. Most recently, the Malmö based game developer, and subsidiary to Ubisoft, Massive Entertainment was trusted with the project of creating games set in the universe of James Cameron’s upcoming Avatar movies.
In other news, US media company and broadcaster Viacom recently announced the release of a new subscription based video service; Paramount Plus. Denmark, Norway, and Sweden will be among the first markets in which the service will be launched. The service will only be available through traditional TV distributors in each country. In Sweden, customers of Com Hem, Bredbandsbolaget, and Canal Digital will be able to access Paramount Plus, starting October 11th. Another US actor advancing on the European market is Amazon, which recently launched the Amazon Prime Video service on Sony’s Playstation 4 console.Read more
Mediavision has compiled the subscriber development during the first half of 2017 for the five major traditional pay TV operators in the US, compared to that of OTT service Netflix.
*Includes: AT&T, Charter, Comcast, DISH, and Verizon.
Source: Company reports
Throughout the first half of 2017 subscribers have increasingly cut the cord to the top 5 traditional pay TV operators in the US; corresponding to a loss of approximately 1.5 million subscribers compared to end of year 2016. Meanwhile, Netflix added around 2.5 million subscriptions in the US alone during the same period (with an additional 7.7 million international subscriptions) – reaching the milestone of over 100 million subscribers worldwide in Q2 2017.
In attempts to counter this development, and eventually capitalize on the digitalization of the TV industry; several traditional operators are moving into the OTT space. AT&T’s online streaming service DirecTV Now added about 300’ subscriptions during H1 2017 vs end of year 2016, and DISH’s Sling TV added around 250’ in the same period. However, these services still have a long way to go before completely offsetting the drop in traditional pay TV subscriptions, and catch up with competitors like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon. Furthermore, actors are trying to maintain consumer interest toward traditional pay TV channels through “skinny bundling”. This could mean either offering an á la carte selection of channels or excluding certain expensive channels (often sports) to offer packages at a cheaper price.
Further efforts to thwart traditional TV decline includes CNN setting out to reach a younger audience through a cooperation with Snapchat. Snapchat has also emphasized its focus on mobile video content, following a rather lengthy negative development on the stock market for the parent company Snap Inc.
In the Nordics however, there’s no clear decline of subscribers in the TV market, as IPTV and digital cable keep growing, offsetting the decline in satellite and terrestrial television subscriptions. Regardless, the effects of digitalization are increasingly visible in the Nordic markets as well, as most pay TV operators employ their own OTT service, or include an existing service in their own infrastructure (eg including Netflix or HBO Nordic in set top boxes or own apps).Read more
The summer has been an eventful one in the media industry, yet how has traditional TV performed throughout the Nordics?
In Sweden between week 26-31, time spent watching traditional TV decreased in the population by -9% vs the same period last year. Furthermore, the drop among young (15-24 year-olds) was -24% year-on-year (YOY), resulting in an average daily traditional TV viewing time of just around 30 minutes throughout these weeks. However, for 2016 the period included the final stages of the UEFA Euros won by Portugal in mid July – which partly explains the decreased viewing in 2017.
The drop in viewing has affected all of the major broadcasters, even though only SVT and TV4 broadcasted the UEFA Euros in 2016. MTG experienced the largest drop among young with -43% YOY in average daily viewing time.
In Finland, July showed a similarly negative development, with a viewing decrease among young even more significant than in Sweden. For the entire population, a viewing decrease of -7% July 2017 vs July 2016 was recorded, while viewers aged 10-24 decreased their viewing by a whopping -33% compared to last year. For these younger viewers, this resulted in an average daily viewing time throughout July of 30 min, similar to the amount of time Swedish youngsters spend watching traditional TV.
In Q2, Danish broadcaster TV2 recorded a share of viewing (SOV) equal to that of public service broadcaster DR, who saw a decreased SOV compared to the same period last year – no doubt affected by the UEFA Euros in 2016.
Source: Kantar Gallup
While traditional TV viewing is on the decline across the Nordics, global online video actors are growing at an increasing rate. Facebook reported a better than expected Q2 with a more than 70% increase in profits vs Q2 2016. This news was followed by the limited release of the dedicated video service; “Facebook Watch”, marking the start of a head-on competition between Facebook and Youtube, as well as traditional TV actors with presence in the AVOD sector.
In the past week, Disney was in the news for withdrawing their content from Netflix after acquiring majority ownership of Major League Baseball’s tech subsidiary BAMTech for 1.5 bn USD. The acquisition is an outspoken move towards releasing OTT services dedicated to distribution of Disney material within both sports, reality, and fiction. Furthermore, BAMTech has a close connection to League of Legends creators Riot Games, working on the game publisher’s own streaming platform. Thus, the acquisition puts Disney, and specifically its sports subsidiary ESPN, in a position of power within the e-sports industry – following ESPN’s recent investments in e-sports.Read more
During the past week, the e-sports and gaming industry has been at the top of many news outlets. The tournament/event Intel Extreme Masters became the most watched e-sports event in history, Facebook ventured deeper into live-streaming of e-sports and gaming content and Youtube partnered with e-sports company FaceIT for streaming rights.
Run by MTG owned e-sports company Turtle Entertainment, the e-sports event and tournament Intel Extreme Masters in Katowice took place 25-26 of February and 3-5 of March 2017. The event had over 46 million unique viewers – thereby overtaking League of Legends World Championships in October 2016 as the most watched e-sport event in history. However, it is important to note that while League of Legends WC reached fewer viewers in total (43 million), it most probably had a higher peak viewership, since IEM Katowice hosted tournaments in three different games; LoL, CS:GO, and Starcraft II – segmenting viewership between the three. Nevertheless, it’s an accomplishment corresponding to a yearly increase of more than +35% viewership compared to 2016.
Furthermore, Facebook recently announced that they are releasing the feature of livestreaming directly from desktop to your followers/friends on Facebook. This is a definite step toward competing with e-sport actors such as Twitch.tv and Youtube Gaming. Meanwhile, Youtube partnered with e-sports company FaceIT, which was announced late last week as the biggest e-sports investment from the Google owned company to date. FaceIT runs the e-sports league “Esports Championship Series” (ECS) which will now be exclusively available on Youtube.
More on the development of the e-sports and gaming industry in the Nordics can be found in Mediavision’s latest analysis “E-sports & Gaming 2016/2017”, including unique insight into the development of both consumers and actors in the industry.
Sources: Company press releases, Reuters.