Monday, December 10, 2012

A Tale Of More Than Two Cities

Well, I'm back in Blighty for the holiday season and it's interesting to reflect on the differences between the British and French markets.

In our Paris flat we're about to get 'la fibre' installed by Orange (pronounced orraanj); this 100Mbps service, along with free international and domestic calls and 150 TV channels costs just £25 a month.

In the UK, an equivalent package in London with Virgin Media is £90 and for Sky in Wales is £65.

Only the sports packages are the same at roughly £25 a month.

Perhaps BT Vision will seriously stir up the market in the UK. And you've got to ask why Sky (or rather NewsCorp) has never had any ambitions in the French market, where pay per view is dominated by Canal +.

Of course, Europe is very different from the US and language and regulation create barriers, but there is a massive opportunity for a pan European media play. Liberty and Sky are the two companies best poised, and pretty much every other European media group is laden with debt.

So, you have to ask why the likes of Comcast haven't made a serious play in Europe yet? Well, to date they've been too busy defending their back yard and also overcoming the regulatory restrictions they have long operated under. But the internet is forcing content to become global and there is a vaccum. Will it be a traditional player, Hulu or YouTube ?

Or will the content owners ensure that they prevent a dominant player from appearing so that they can devide and rule ?

In the meantime, I still don't understand how we can be part of a 'single market' and still pay £670 a GB for data usage when taking a phone around this market where this should cost £25 at most, or three times more for the same basic triple play service between one market and another?

It is interesting to compare how Americans spend their money on entertainment http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2012/08/01/157664524/how-the-poor-the-middle-class-and-the-rich-spend-their-money and how much the British spend on entertainment http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/family-spending/family-spending/family-spending-2012-edition/sum-headlines.html. Now, there's no direct comparison, but the basic figures are startling, despite higher real housing and energy costs, Brits spend much more proportionally on 'cultural' spending. So the picture is different again in LA or New York.