Sector trends & challenges
For traditional media, declining circulations have prompted a powerful strategic pivot towards subscriptions and new revenues. Regional titles have continued to struggle to create a compelling customer proposition.
Cash and Liquidity
Margin pressure continues to exist across the sector. Online platforms demand continued investment both in infrastructure and content in order to remain relevant in a crowded marketplace.
Disruption from Covid-19
As well as a marked fall in print circulations during lockdowns, subdued advertising revenues have impacted operators that have eschewed the subscription/paywall model.
Sector rating profile
The team at Interpath have observed a low to moderate volume of restructuring activity in the sector over the longer term. The print sector in particular has been in structural decline and finding the transition to digital/technology led media ever more challenging in a global market place. The pandemic has added an additional accelerant in changes to societal behaviour whilst also adding complexity to the production of onscreen media (film/television). A post COVID-19 rebound is likely but timescales for that remain uncertain.
The media sector is defined broadly, covering ‘traditional’ media such as news and magazine publishers through to television and radio production and broadcast and then on again into the digital space. The blurring of the lines between media and technology sectors is likely to be a key feature of the post-COVID-19 economic recovery.
For traditional print, COVID-19 has been a challenging time, with newspaper circulations perceived to have fallen and a number of titles no longer permitting their volumes to be published. The regional press has particularly struggled, and the impact of continued cost savings is increasingly visible to consumers.
Privacy (GDPR), security and reliability concerns mean companies are being held to increasingly high operating standards in the form of increased regulation. Companies must now invest more to ensure they achieve these new higher standards which increases pressure on liquidity and working capital.
The sector is seeing disruption due to the Covid-19 pandemic and consequent changes in societal behaviour. In addition to declining print circulations, subdued advertising revenues may also occur for the foreseeable future. There is also a potential for an increase in future subscription cancellations. Similar to many sectors, some production challenges have arisen from Covid-19 social distancing measures and lockdown restrictions.
Brexit and the new trade deal between the UK and EU are likely to cause a shift in the labour force within the sector as companies look to new hires to meet their skills and expertise requirements. Structural changes are being seen across the sector with companies trying to adapt to digital-led content and we think further consolidation is likely. Many start-ups are burning through cash investments, resulting in a need for alternate funding to see products through the development cycle.
An increase in production costs for television programmes and films are putting pressures on profit margins, however there is likely pent-up demand for new creative outputs following recent restrictions. A boom in UK TV and film production post-COVID-19 could provide a good level of upside. Multi-platform media brands are those likely to be more resilient over the coming year.
Find Your Expert
Mark Raddan is Interpath Lead for the wider Technology, Media and Telecommunications sector. Anthony Mayes leads our approach to the Media sub-sector nationally. For a full list of our senior people with experience in this area use the button below.Our senior team