Here come the telcos!

How should broadcasters respond?

OK, so the headline doesn’t quite have the same ring to it as the Sugababes’ 2008 hit Here Come The Girls, but the intent is clear: telcos are getting ready for a good time...

This is a short blog with a quick snapshot of a major trend we can’t fail to have witnessed in the last 12 months (or longer): that of telco companies large and small buying up or partnering with broadcasters.

Last week we heard that “Nordic telecom operator Telia has struck a deal to take control of Bonnier Broadcasting” in Sweden.

At the end of June, Telefonica in Spain announced that it had acquired Champions League and Europa League rights from Mediapro (coming just days after securing the domestic TV rights for Spain's La Liga from 2019 to 2022).

These developments come after Comcast’s on/off interest in acquiring 21st Century Fox, and AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner.

These are just the ones I can instantly remember—there are plenty more if you go digging. And if they weren’t enough, at the start of June Amazon sealed a deal to livestream exclusive coverage of 20 English Premier League matches a season (our views on that here), and Facebook secured a deal that will see it exclusively stream all Premier League matches in the mobile-first markets of Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.

Why is this happening? We’re in an enviable position here at CCgroup as we see developments in both the MediaTech and Telecoms industries through our tech PR clients in those sectors.

The equation is simple: telcos need new sources of revenue, and their rapidly expanding IP-based delivery platforms lend themselves extremely well to TV/video content that can be monetised. It also helps to be able to provide content as a market differentiator and in defence of OTT encroachment (often using those very same networks).

The deal sizes range from the “small” hundreds of millions of dollars in the case of the Facebook deal, to the massive tens of billions in the Comcast and AT&T cases.

Viewed in discrete regional, content type, and deal size pockets, these acquisitions are perhaps ignorable. But instead we might view them as “death by a thousand cuts”. Slowly but surely, traditional broadcasters are having to face up to these growing threats as big operators with deep pockets muscle in on their business. “Why commission and produce content when you can just buy into it instead?”, the theory goes.

Our research from last year identified a number of technical challenges that broadcast service providers face in their transition to IP, and how technology vendors might begin to capture some of the exciting prospects that the move will ultimately yield.

But it doesn’t necessarily tell us how they’re going to respond to these new market dynamics as the threat from telcos (and OTTs) grows. This topic will be the subject of a new, free CCgroup report which we’ll be releasing at the end of August, which will carry interviews with some of the industry’s leading players and commentators.

To register in advance for your free copy, please complete the form to the right of this page.


Picture of Duncan McKean

Written by Duncan McKean

Duncan started working life in the Nuclear Physics Labs at Oxford University, working on projects including CERN, and the ATSR space instruments. In 1998, he entered the world of B2B technology PR, where he has been ever since. Duncan has a natural passion for science and technology and has put this to good use, leading PR and communications work for leading technology innovators such as ARM, BT, IBM, HP, Nortel and InterDigital, covering everything from intellectual property in semiconductors and telecoms, to networks, imaging and storage. Outside work, Duncan is an enthusiastic “home chef”, foodie and music collector. He volunteers for the Big Community Takeaway charity, amongst others.

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