Sky, now a Comcast company, is reported to be interested in investing in a Liberty Global joint venture company Liberty Fibre, to compete with BT Openreach by building its own fibre network in regions in the United Kingdom that are not currently served by the Virgin Media cable network.
Liberty Global recently completed the sale of a number of European cable assets to Vodafone, providing proceeds of over €10 billion.
It has retained Virgin Media, with around 3.82 million cable television customers in the United Kingdom. However, its network passes over 15 million homes in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
Liberty Global is looking to reach more of the 10 million or so homes that are not currently served by the Virgin Media cable network, enabling it to become a national brand.
It has appointed an investment bank to find partners for a new joint venture company to build out a full fibre network. It has established a separate company, Liberty Fibre Ltd.
Sky, which was acquired by the American cable company Comcast, is clearly keen to extend beyond its satellite service. It currently offers broadband services to some 6 million customers over the BT Openreach network. It also offers online video over any broadband network with its NOW TV service and has talked about delivering its full Sky Q service over broadband.
Sky offers its own channels on a wholesale basis on the Virgin Media platform. It is also selling its addressable advertising on the cable service. Sky is also reported to be discussing the possibility of offering a wholesale service over the Virgin Media network.
Comcast has over 20 million cable television customers in the United States, to which it has added 24 million Sky customers across Europe.
As a cable company, Comcast has a potential interest in investing in fibre infrastructure. It could ultimately be interested in acquiring Virgin Media, although whether that would be acceptable in terms of competition is another matter.