UK PRS market set for strong growth in 2024, fuelled by DCB use in TV and entertainment services

The UK’s phone paid services market is expected to grow to £619m in 2023 and 2024 driven by further increases in consumer spending through operator billing (+9.1% year-on-year), and charity donations (+15.8%), with the return of the Stand Up to Cancer telethon expected to generate increased donations.

 User spending via premium SMS will be very similar to spending in 2022-2023 (–0.1%), and all other payment channels will decline in comparison with 2022–2023 because online platforms and digital payment mechanisms will continue to divert payments from phone-paid services.

According to predictions in the latest industry report by Analysis Mason for the Phone-Paid Services Authority (PSA) – the industry’s regulator in the UK – spending on operator billing will reach £321.0 million (+9.1% year-on-year), maintaining its position as the largest phone-paid services payment channel. By 2023–2024, the report says it expects operator billing will account for more than half of all payments made on phone-paid service channels (51.9%, up from 49.6% in 2022–2023).

Premium SMS spending is expected to remain relatively steady in 2023-2024, declining at a rate of 0.1% year-on-year to £188.5 million, significantly slower than in 2022–2023, when it was –3.5% year-on-year. The report forecasts that charity donations will grow by 15.8% year-on-year to reach £41.6 million in 2023–2024, but consumer spending via all other payment channels will decline.

The market share of voice 09, 118 and 087 numbers combined with voice short codes will fall from 12.6% in 2022–2023 to an estimated 11.0% in 2023–2024.

TV to drive DCB use

The largest segment for DCB spend will come from TV and entertainment, just ahead of that of games, which dominated DCB spend in 2022-23. Consumer spending on TV and radio engagement will increase by £1.8 million. This is because competitions will be run all year in contrast to the interruptions in fundraising during September 2022 as a result of a two-week break from competitions due to national mourning, and the subsequent halting of momentum, says the report.

However, declining TV viewership and the ongoing transition of radio and TV broadcast competitions to online platforms will slightly reduce the scale of this increase. Industry stakeholders expect this year’s trend of growing radio listenership to continue, but they also reported radio broadcasters’ plans to grow their online platforms, which will divert consumer spend away from phone-paid services and towards other payment mechanisms.

Spending on games is expected to increase by £19.9 million to a total of £162.3 million. The main drivers of this expected growth are the continued growth of in the number of games and the increasing acceptance of operator billing as a payment method for these services. The growth rate in 2023–2024 will be lower than in 2022–2023 when new and existing partnerships between Apple and operators (including Vodafone and Three) helped to drive growth.

However, these partnerships will remain a key contributor to the expected growth next year, as industry stakeholders expect to see an increasing number of consumers paying for games through Apple’s App Store using operator billing. Industry stakeholders also mentioned in interviews that one-off payments for gaming subscriptions will become a key growth area.

User spending on entertainment services will grow by £3.6 million. This forecasted increase is driven by anticipated new partnerships between video-on-demand providers and operators. These agreements are likely to emerge as intensifying competition in the video streaming market will incentivise market players to expand the range of payment mechanisms that they offer subscribers.

Similarly, to games, service providers will focus on increasing the number of subscriptions that can be taken using one-off payments. One operator mentioned that they will continue to bundle streaming services in an attempt to increase revenue.

Spending on all other services, including assistance services, betting, gambling and lotteries, sexual entertainment and personal and relationship services, will decline by £8.7 million. Within these services, assistance services are expected to decline by £4.4 million, a continuation of previous trends. Betting, gambling and lotteries are expected to remain more or less static, with a £0.3 million decline in end-user spending forecast. This can be explained by the limited appetite from merchants, service providers and operators to onboard and promote gambling services due to the PSD2 spending limitation and other perceived regulatory pressures. Personal and relationship services and sexual entertainment services are expected to decline by £0.7 million each, as the use of these legacy services gradually erodes in favour of online platforms.

Beyond 2024

The study takes a look ahead to how the market in the UK may shape up beyond 2024 and offers some encouraging predictions. The report says: “We forecast that between 2022–2023 and 2025–2026, the phone-paid services market will grow at a CAGR of 2.8% to reach £644.5 million in user spending by the end of the forecast period. Steady growth in operator billing and biannual growth in charity donations will drive this overall increase, with the former due to continued increases in consumer spending on games and the latter due to growing donations following the alleviation of the cost-of-living crisis. Spending via all other payment mechanisms will continue to decline, as legacy services reach their core user bases and TV and radio broadcast competitions move to online platforms.”

The study predicts that operator billing will remain the largest phone-paid service spending channel, growing to account for 54.4% (or £340.0 million) of total user spending in 2024–2025 and 55.1% (£355.0 million) of total spending in 2025– 2026. The proportion of phone-paid service spending via premium SMS will, however, decrease annually to 29.9% (£186.6 million) of total spending in 2024–2025 and 28.6% (£184.6 million) in 2025–2026.

All other payment channels will see reduced consumer spending between 2022–2023 and 2025–2026, except charity donations which will increase every other year (as discussed in Section 6.1 above). Voice-based payment channels will account for 10.0% of the phone-paid services market in 2024–2025 and 9.1% in 2025–2026. Figure 6.2 provides a breakdown of consumer spending by payment channel.

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The Festival Series 2022 set to begin in Tallinn in June

The Festival in Tallinn

Malta – January 25th, 2022: The Festival Series Season 2022 is now set to begin in Tallinn, Estonia from June 27th – July 3rd, 2022, instead of Bratislava in March. The same games, the same concept and the same level of excitement and fun is guaranteed, just with a slight delay.

The decision comes following careful monitoring of the COVID situation across Europe, which sadly is still recording high numbers. And communicated since the inauguration of the series, player safety has always been the highest priority. Therefore, a COVID contingency plan was put into place from the start to protect our attendees and ensure that everyone who wants to play at our events has the option to travel to the location safely.

Players who have won packages for The Festival in Bratislava can be assured that they will roll over to the Tallinn stop. There will be no unusable tickets and no player will get left behind. This way, players can feel safer and more confident about attending the event.

The Festival Season 2022 will now kick off in summertime in the Estonian capital Tallinn. Venue will be the Olympic Park Casino next to the city centre.

“We want our first event in 2022 to be sensational” says Martin “Franke” von Zweigbergk, who is leading the event organization, “and we believe we can achieve this if we launch the Series at this slightly later date in Tallinn. The pandemic situation in Europe should be significantly better by Summer. After our successful first event last year it feels like a small eternity having to wait until June this year. However, we promise it will be worth the wait.” 

Now the full focus is shifting onto The Festival in Tallinn – set to be the first event of The Festival Series Season 2022 from June 27th – July 3rd, 2022. Preparations are in full swing with maximum effort to make this another memorable event after the fantastic inaugural event in Bratislava last year. More stops for The Festival Series will be announced in due course. 

About Acroud AB: ACROUD owns, operates and develops high-quality comparison sites, mainly in iGaming affiliation, for the purpose of helping our partners by channelling high-quality users to the Company’s customers – primarily iGaming operators. Through the sites, ACROUD generates high-quality users, primarily to global iGaming operators. The Company, which was founded in 2003, has just over 50 employees and is headquartered in Malta.

PokerListings set to do Live Reporting from The Festival Series in Nottingham (13-19 February 2023) 

Melvin Schroen – Live Reporter

For the first time in the history of The Festival Series, an event series is being held at the Dusk Till Dawn Pokerclub in Nottingham. PokerListings, represented by Melvin Schroen, will handle the live blog, and will provide all of you with all the inside information of this epic week of events. There will be a total of 35 unique tournaments being held, divided over the next seven days. The Series, who is mainly focused on mixed games and all the events around poker itself, will provide a guaranteed prize pool of £200,000 for the Main Event. Additionally, another great event will take place in the name of PokerListings Championships and it has a whopping £25,000 guaranteed. Both big events we will cover from A to Z for you, with the last-mentioned event currently already started with more than 80 entries in just two hours! 

Games for Everyone  

The Festival Series is known for its diversity in game selection, specialized in mixed games. With 35 unique events, there is of course enough to play for Hold’em fans, but the mixed games are right up there in the likes of Omaha, Mixed PLO/NLHE, PLO 4/5/6, PLO HiLo, Open Face Chinese, Short-Deck, and Sviten Special. So, if you like games with more than two hole-cards, the place to be this week will be the Dusk Till Dawn Pokerclub in Nottingham! Don’t forget about the following, for every event there is an amazing trophy to be won, which will be an unique portrait drawing of the winners photo. If that’s not enough yet, you will also get a signed comic book!

About the Main Event 

The Main Event of The Festival Series is a deep-stacked and nicely structured event with four opening flights. With 200,000 chips in starting stack, it is going to be promised to be a fun ride of action for everyone. With the first three days to be 30-minutes levels, the last turbo flight will be with 15-minute blind levels. A guaranteed prize pool cannot be missed and this time there has been set a whopping £200,000 as a guarantee, which promises to give the top spots a heavy prize.  

Players are allowed to re-enter once per starting day and can re-enter until the end of the first two levels of the second day, unique in its kind. Last edition in Bratislava was won by Dutchman Michel Molenaar, who collected a nice €126,650 score at the cash desk, in which another Dutch player in the name of Gerianne Dijkstra became second for €77,450.  

It is certain to be fireworks in Nottingham. And if you still have the chance to hop on a flight or train, you won’t be disappointed! 

Winner Bratislava Main Event : Michel Molenaar

Secure your package for the next stop in Malta!

There are several packages to be won for the next stop in Malta (15-21 May). Regardless of what you will play this week, in any discipline you can scoop a package worth 1,600! We have listed them for you:

Player of the Series

During the previous stop in Bratislava a true players ranking was introduced. Swede Totti Linde walked away with the package for The Festival Nottingham. To get hold of this all-round trophy, you will have the score the most points based on the ranking system. Meaning that you will either need to run very deep in the Main Event and make a couple of other notable finishes in other side events, or you simply play every single side event and cash in most of them. For more information check this link.

Cash Game Challenge

Are you a cash game player? Twice per day there is a cash game challenge, which mostly will be streamed live on the twitch channel of The Festival Series. It does not matter if you have deep pockets or not, regardless the buy-in level or blind level, it is all about the net profit in big blinds collected. All this needs to happen within the designated time frame which stands in line for this challenge. For more information check this link.

Franke’s Flip ‘n Go’s

The famous flip games are also part of the assortment in Nottingham during The Festival Series. Whoever wins the most flips throughout the whole week, takes home a package for the next event. Do you want to become the next flip master? Check out following link for more information.

PokerListings Championships

The PokerListings Championships is in full swing currently with Day 1A being played but hold your horses. Tomorrow there is another starting day as well. With a well-structured event and a 200K starting stack, there is enough space for some stunts. The winner does not only walk away with a heavy first prize, but also takes home the trophy + a package for the next stop. 

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