CBI says UK must lead the way on technology regulation

27 March 2019 Consultancy.uk

Addressing the Deloitte Media and Telecomms Conference 2019, the CBI’s Director-General, Carolyn Fairbairn, has suggested that businesses must work with regulators to build trust in Britain’s burgeoning technology sector. Fairbairn added that such measures could ensure a prosperous future for one of the UK’s fastest growing sectors, even in the shadow of Brexit.

The CBI is the UK's top-billed business organisation, providing a voice for firms at a regional, national and international level to policymakers. The CBI speaks on behalf of 190,000 businesses of all sizes and sectors. Together they employ nearly 7 million people, about one-third of the private sector-employed workforce. With 13 offices around the UK, the organisation’s members face an uncertain 2019, as Britain’s businesses brace for the lingering prospect of a No Deal Brexit.

One of the sectors which the CBI represents, the technology industry, faces a watershed moment in the coming months, amid the continued uncertainty surrounding Brexit. Despite everything, 2018 saw venture capital invest more in UK tech than Germany and France combined, while the Black Country is now hosting world leading research into 5G internet from Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Coventry. In this environment, CBI Director General Carolyn Fairbairn has told business leaders that by seizing the agenda on this front the UK can help insulate its economy from coming headwinds.

CBI calls for UK to lead the way in internet regulation

Speaking at Deloitte Media and Telecomms Conference 2019, Fairbairn, contended that the UK is still well-positioned to build a media and telecoms sector that is the envy of the world. During the speech, she highlighted a once-in-a-generation opportunity to develop policies that both protect people from harm and help support the UK’s booming digital economy.

The CBI Director General explained, “There are some momentous choices looming that will shape the course of your sector’s future. They fall into three areas; trade, talent, and trust. Three T-words that make a change from the B-word and in reality are far more important.”

She further related that the future trading relationship for services is both urgent and pressing, and the CBI will ensure the voice of creative services is heard loud and clear. The UK’s service sector could be hit hard by Brexit, as the Department for Exiting the EU has warned that under a No Deal Brexit there would be no mutual recognition of professional qualifications between Britain and the mainland, making for tricky trading relationships in the future.

In relation to this, at present, the UK is said to be facing a ‘brain drain’ as skilled EU nationals and British citizens consider relocating as a result of the potentially diminished opportunities the UK will host post-Brexit. Fairbairn, therefore, also argued that the UK’s position as a magnet for the world’s creative and tech talent must be maintained through education reform at home, embracing diversity and getting its future immigration policy right. 

With regards to trust, meanwhile, innovative technological changes are increasingly seen as worrying rather than exciting developments by a scandal-weary public – tired of having their data unethically farmed for private gain and electoral gerrymandering. Fairbairn advised that, amongst the excitement of all that technology can bring, the tech sector faces a groundswell of mistrust – something which may see a future of greater regulation to assuage such doubts. While traditionally the CBI has favoured laissez-faire capitalism over regulation, Fairbairn suggested that the time to avoid such measures is now past.

She concluded, “If we ask: will industry action alone be enough to restore trust? I think the answer is: no. And that means we can anticipate a future of greater oversight and regulation. We can ignore that fact. We can resist. Or we can do something a little bolder. Anticipate it. Work with it. Shape it.”

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Despite industry disruption televised sport still draws audiences

24 April 2019 Consultancy.uk

Despite the disruption wrought on most areas of traditional broadcasting by streaming challengers, sports remains a major draw for audiences of television networks. This is particularly true of viewers who bet money on sporting events, with those that have skin in the game considerably more likely to follow the event on a television screen.

Arguably the true opiate of the masses, for centuries organised sports have been a major draw for hordes of fanatical spectators, from the grand coliseums of Ancient Rome to the more understated greens of local cricket grounds. The advent of television in the 20th century took this to a new level, allowing for widespread visual access to major sporting events, and sowing the seeds of a multi-billion industry in the process. Yet while watching sport remains a key pastime for many, changing consumer preferences and new technologies are affecting the traditional sport distribution channel of TV.

To better understand trends in the sporting broadcast market, Deloitte recently released an article titled ‘Does TV Sports have a Future?’ as part of its wider ‘Technology, Media, and Telecommunications Predictions 2019’ report into telecommunications trends. The conclusions in the piece are based on the firm’s own survey of 1,062 US-based respondents.

More men than women watch sport

Traditional television has in recent years begun to lose out to streaming and on demand services, resulting in a generation that is watching considerably less television. The shift in consumer sentiment has caused traditional TV companies consternation as well as shifts in business models. The average Millennial now watches 42% fewer minutes per week of TV in 2018 than they did in 2010. Yet not all areas of the traditional television market have been as hard hit by the shift, and sport is one of them. This contradicts previous studies which may have suggested that Millennials were abandoning ‘old’ media for their sport viewing.

One reason for this could well be sports betting, which means that many of the people watching the event are keen to see how their punt is faring, in play. According to Deloitte, 78% of male sport viewers, and 64% of their female counterparts would be more likely to tune in to a live event if they had bet on it.

The study found that sport gambling remains a key fixture in the gambling industry as a whole in the UK. In the United Kingdom in 2017, sports betting had £14 billion in turnover. In the four Nordic countries, meanwhile legal gambling of all kinds was an approximate €6 billion industry in 2015. In the US, meanwhile, the industry as a whole is worth around a quarter of a trillion dollars – with sports betting figuring at around 40% of that total. The industry is projected to see growth of 9% over the coming three years.

Betting on sports is associated with watching sports on TV for more than five hours on a typical weekday

However, while the gambling industry does indeed seem to have some impact on television engagement, it would be dangerous to overstate this as a positive, and such a conclusion might also put the cart before the horse. Deloitte’s study found that ‘super-superfans’ – those who watched more than five hours on a typical weekday – were more likely to gamble than average viewers.

Of those who watch more than five hours of sport per day, only 4% do not bet. Of those, 2% do not currently bet, or have never bet, respectively. Again, it could be asserted that these people are engaging with televised sport, and thus keeping the advertising-based industry afloat, due to the betting they participate in. However, it could equally be argued that they are exhibiting compulsive behaviour in spending such a large amount of time viewing sport in the first place – behaviour which would leave them as easy prey for gambling firms, who can now milk them for profit.

But where is all this set to lead? According author Duncan Stewart, the potential profitability of this model means it is likely to be exported from the UK in the coming years.

Steward concluded, “As a thought experiment, one can imagine a 30-year-old American man in the year 2025… watching a football game on the TV set, smartphone in hand. He can bet on the match at any point, modify his wager, buy back a losing wager, bet on the outcome of individual plays or individual stats such as the number of passing yards by the quarterback—all in real time, and all tailored to him. Ads could be served that are customised for him, informed by his betting and attention, and watching would have to be 100% live. The broadcaster or betting site could not only charge more for ads seen by such an involved viewer, but even have a share in (or own outright) the profits from the betting/video stream … at margins much higher than the usual for TV broadcasting. To an American, this sounds like science fiction, but in the United Kingdom, these solutions (or variations of them) are available today.”