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Bans on single-use plastics spread to US cities

Can ComScore Break Nielsen's Near-Monopoly On Ratings?

Most TV Everywhere Viewing Is Live TV In The Home

Consumer Insights Online Video User Overview

Public Companies Going Private


Bans on single-use plastics spread to US cities

U.S. cities are bolstering efforts to curb single-use plastic straws and utensils as the focus on reducing waste intensifies globally.

Seattle and Oakland, Calif., are among the most recent cities to enact bans, which are going into effect July 1. At least a couple of other cities are reportedly considering doing the same.

The moves come as companies are also increasingly moving away from plastic straws and utensils even though the cost of alternative supplies are more expensive. Shareholder proposals are driving some to adopt broad sustainability and recycling pledges, while government bans are also forcing companies to look for alternatives. In the most recent illustration of the trend, Starbucks Corp. announced July 9 that it will eliminate single-use plastic straws from its more than 28,000 stores worldwide by 2020 in favor of recyclable strawless lids and paper or compostable plastic straws.

"It's kind of the beginning to a long conversation on packaging," Conrad Mackerron, senior vice president of As You Sow, said in an interview with S&P Global Market Intelligence. As You Sow is a nonprofit group focused on environmentalism through shareholder action.

Seattle's rules bar offering single-plastic straws and utensils and require compostable or recyclable alternatives, according to Seattle Public Utilities. The city's ban began in 2008 but officials delayed it until this year as they waited for more companies to manufacture alternatives. Oakland's rules only cover single-use straws but allow diners to get a straw if they ask for one or if they order takeout, according to city code.

On a larger scale, San Francisco and New York are considering bans on plastic straws while the California Assembly passed a bill barring restaurants and other business that serve food from offering single-use straws unless a customer asks for one, The New York Times reported. California's Senate is considering the bill in committee, according to the state Legislature.

The U.K. in April also announced its intent to ban plastic straws, stirrers and plastic-stemmed cotton swabs, according to a government announcement. U.K. officials will start a consultation on the ban later this year, and no timeline for its rollout has been announced.

Groups monitoring plastic waste give wildly varying estimates on the number of items consumers are discarding. Environmental groups including For A Strawless Ocean frequently cite estimates of 500 million straws per day used in the U.S. The U.K. government, citing studies on the matter, said 8.5 billion plastic straws are thrown away there each year.

Seattle-based Starbucks began offering compostable straws, splash sticks and cutlery at its stores in its home city when Seattle's ban began, a company spokesperson said in an e-mail. Starbucks declined to provide a cost estimate for the switch.

The coffee giant said July 9 that its new strawless lids are already used for a small number of cold drinks in more than 8,000 Starbucks stores in the U.S. and Canada. Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia, will be the first cities to see strawless lids replace single-use plastic straws, according to Starbucks.

The worldwide switch will eliminate more than 1 billion plastic straws from Starbucks stores, the company said. Starbucks is also testing paper straws in its U.K. stores.

McDonald's Corp. and Yum! Brands Inc.'s KFC and Taco Bell did not return messages seeking comment, though the Illinois-based burger chain is rolling out paper straws in 1,361 restaurants in the U.K. and Ireland by 2019.

KFC Singapore on June 20 stopped providing plastic straws and drink-up lids to dine-guests in favor of looking further into biodegradable packing, Inside Retail Asia reported.

McDonald's has also pledged to use packaging entirely from recyclable or sustainable sources by 2025. Outside the restaurant industry, Swiss food giant Nestlé SA has made a similar pledge to McDonald's, and Unilever PLC is working with two other companies to develop new technology to recycle PET plastic waste into material for food packaging.

In Seattle, restaurants have switched to a variety of options: offering compostable plastics, redesigned strawless lids or no straws at all, Morgan Huether, spokesperson for the Seattle Restaurant Alliance, said during a phone interview.

"We're seeing a huge variety in what our members are doing," Huether said. "Each individual operator has been going out and finding what works for them."

Alternatives are generally more costly than the plastic they replace.

"A paper straw will be five times the cost of a similarly sized plastic straw," said Laura Craven, director of communications and marketing for Florida and New Jersey supply company Imperial Dade. Craven noted that Imperial Dade supplies more than 40,000 restaurants, cruise lines, cafeterias and grocery stores and that more than half of those customers use straws of some kind.

Compostable plastic straws cost about four times more than their noncompostable counterparts, while bamboo or metal straws can drive up that cost difference even further, Craven said. A compostable fork can cost about eight times more than nonbiodegradable plastic.

Aside from the costs, moving away from plastic puts more pressure on manufacturers to keep up with demand. Craven said Imperial Dade has a three-month backorder for paper straws but is working with manufacturers to try to make more alternatives available.

Increased demand could drive up wait times even higher.

"If they were not able to use plastic straws and could only use paper or compostable PLA straws, I don't see right now how we would keep up with that demand," Craven said.

Even if companies can find alternatives to plastic, Mackerron said, people should be encouraged to recycle more in the U.S., and companies should have a stake in ensuring that packaging is actually recycled.

"That's what it comes down to: Make your stuff recyclable and become a part of a system … that ensures we do have significant recycling rates," he said.

Seattle's ban does require businesses to assume responsibility for collecting and recycling straws and utensils, according to city code.

Mackerron pointed to British Columbia, which first put into place "extended producer responsibility" plans in the 1990s requiring companies to pay for recycling programs.

As of March 2017, the programs shifted $85 million in costs from local governments to industry, according to the British Columbia Ministry of Environment.

Mackerron also said British Columbia boasts recycling rates of 70% or higher, compared to 30% in the U.S.

"That's a very good harbinger that this can work," he said.


Technology, Media & Telecom
Can ComScore Break Nielsen's Near-Monopoly On Ratings?

Highlights

The following post comes from Kagan, a research group within S&P Global Market Intelligence.

To learn more about our TMT (Technology, Media & Telecommunications) products and/or research, please request a demo.

Sep. 17 2018 — Advertising agencies are becoming increasingly frustrated with the inability of Nielsen Holdings PLC's Nielsen Media Research to convince the major media companies to embrace its new cross-platform measurement system, called Total Audience Measurement. This creates a huge opportunity for comScore Inc., formerly Rentrak.

ComScore is trying to reinvent itself following its delisting in 2017 — it was relisted June 1 — following an accounting scandal. The company's stock has fallen from $65 per share intraday on Aug. 17, 2015, to close at just $18.06 per share on Sept. 6. It currently has a total enterprise value of less than $1.2 billion, paltry in comparison to Nielsen Holdings' $12.9 billion.

In April, comScore named Bryan Wiener, previously executive chairman of Dentsu's digital media agency 360i LLC, as its CEO. On Sept. 5, the company announced that it hired Sarah Hofstetter to serve as president and head up commercial strategy, including sales and marketing.

Wiener and Hofstetter have worked together for two decades, most recently at 360i, where Hofstetter was CEO and chairwoman. The two executives' deep ties to the advertising community may be just what is needed to bring a competing cross-platform measurement system to the broadcast and cable network industries.

Cable network ad revenue grew for decades before stumbling, albeit modestly, during the last recession. More recently, despite a booming economy the cable network ad industry has faltered, in part due to cord cutting and cord shaving but also because current ratings do not include all of online viewing and out-of-home viewing.

Currently, the ratings only include online viewing within a three-day period, which includes the exact same commercial load as linear. Many media companies do not believe that online viewers will tolerate the huge ad load that exists on linear TV and do not include the same commercial pods that appear on linear TV when serving up the shows online.

Although negotiations between Nielsen Media Research and the major media companies have been going on for some time, many in the industry are tired of the delays in adopting a new system and are looking at alternate ways to measure viewing.

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Technology, Media & Telecom
Most TV Everywhere Viewing Is Live TV In The Home

Highlights

The following post comes from Kagan, a research group within S&P Global Market Intelligence. To learn more about our TMT (Technology, Media & Telecommunications) products and/or research, please request a demo.

Summary: subscribers to telco operators were more likely to indicate they streamed TV Everywhere content compared to cable and DBS subscribers.

Sep. 17 2018 — Streaming live TV Everywhere to a mobile device inside the home is the TV Everywhere activity most often performed at 52% of multichannel TV respondents, according to data from Kagan’s MediaCensus online consumer survey.

While 58% of respondents surveyed in multichannel homes viewed TV Everywhere in the last three months, just 46% did so out of their home. Click here for the full Kagan report.

Viewing live TV inside the home was not only the TV Everywhere activity performed by the most respondents; it was also the most frequently performed.

Subscribers to telco operators were more likely to indicate they streamed TV Everywhere content compared to cable and DBS subscribers. Subscribers to some operators are more likely to stream TV Everywhere content, with AT&T U-verse (64%) being the highest and WOW! (42%) the lowest among operator subscribers surveyed.

Younger subscribers, especially Millennials, were more likely to stream TV Everywhere content compared to older subscribers.

For more information about the terms of access to the raw data underlying this survey, please contact support@snl.com.

Data presented in this article is from the MediaCensus survey conducted in February 2018. The online survey included 20,035 U.S. internet adults matched by age and gender to the U.S. Census, with additional respondents subscribing to the top multichannel video operators in the U.S. The survey results have a margin of error of +/-0.7 ppts at the 95% confidence level. Generational segments are as follows: Gen Z: 18-20, Millennials: 21-37, Gen X: 38-52, Boomers/Seniors: 53+.

Consumer Insights is a regular feature from Kagan, a group within S&P Global Market Intelligence's TMT offering, providing exclusive research and commentary.

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Technology, Media & Telecom
Consumer Insights Online Video User Overview

Highlights

49% of survey respondents use more than one SVOD service.

Sep. 14 2018 — Data from Kagan’s U.S. online consumer surveys shows that 23% of respondents exclusively use one service, while almost half (49%) use more than one SVOD service. The service which is most commonly used exclusively is Netflix, while users of smaller services almost always use at least one other service.

Netflix is so universally used that it is both the most exclusively used service and the service most often used in conjunction with another service. In terms of demographics, Netflix users are very similar to the general population compared to smaller services that tend to have a younger user base.

With the exception of Netflix, most respondents indicated they have never subscribed to the top four services, including Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video and HBO NOW. Among those who indicated they dropped one of the top services, price was a principal reason for dropping, although content-specific reasons differed by service. Content is one of the most defining characteristics of online streaming services, which can be seen in the content viewed and most enjoyed on each service. In large part users of Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video most enjoy the content each service is known for.

A broader overview of this data was presented in a recent webcast.

Data presented in this blog is from U.S. Consumer Insights surveys conducted in September 2017 and March 2018. The online survey included 2,526 (2017) and 2,523 (2018) U.S. internet adults matched by age and gender to the U.S. Census. The survey results have a margin of error of +/-1.9 ppts at the 95% confidence level.

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Capital Markets
Public Companies Going Private

Sep. 14 2018 — The recent tweet from Elon Musk has understandably made big news, but it is worth pointing out that the appetite for taking public companies private has been a key area of activity this year. S&P Global Market Intelligence’s data shows that 2018YTD is already at 39% of 2017 numbers, standing at €17.8bn of deal value across 32 completed deals, globally. Going-private closed deal count is at a healthy 49% compared to full 2017 numbers.

In terms of most popular sectors for going-private deals, since 2013 - Information Technology has been leading the pack with €108.9bn of aggregate deal value recorded across 104 deals, while Consumer Discretionary* is trending as a distant second with €49.7bn of total deal value.

The top target location for going private deals is the US, and interestingly – China comes in at second place, with UK following. The three regions have seen total deal size of €218.8 during the period of 2013 through 2018YTD. The popularity of these locations is further supported by the fact that after going private, average target’s EBITDA values have increased compared to when those companies were public. The US-based going private targets grew their EBITDA by average of 56% since leaving the public market, while Chinese and the UK-located companies grew EBITDA by 10% and 38%, respectively. Overall, the going private moves proved to be successful for ex-public companies globally within the 2013 – 2018YTD deals’ time frame, where their average Net Income values grew by 58% while EBITDA values grew by a smaller but yet attractive 29%.

In terms of the deal pipeline, 18 going-private deals were announced globally since 1st January 2018 and would add €25.8bn of aggregate deal value to already closed €17.8bn.

The following was originally published on Angel News on August 16, 2018: Public companies going private, S&P Global comment

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