Virgin Media now has 3.77 million television customers in the United Kingdom, slightly less than the number it had a year previously. However, the number with a TiVo box has reached 1.7 million, an increase of 155,000 in the last quarter and 720,000 over the year, reaching 44% of its television customers. Virgin Media is now part of Liberty Global, giving it over 20.7 million television customers in Europe, where it is pushing its Horizon TV box, which now has 270,000 customers. Worldwide, Liberty Global has nearly 21.9 million television subscribers, which is now more than Comcast.
Virgin Media lost nearly 30,000 television customers in the first half of 2013, cancelling a modest gain over the previous six months. In the last quarter it lost over 16,000 television subscribers. The company also lost internet and telephony customers, although the total loss of 23,500 customer relationships represents only a small proportion of its 4.9 million cable customers.
The Virgin TV Anywhere service added 32 live streaming channels, taking the total to 75 on personal computers and 53 on Apple iOS devices.
Virgin mobile customers grew by 30,000 to over 3 million, of which the number of post-paid subscribers grew to 1.8 million, although mobile revenue is down 6% over the year.
In total, Virgin Media reported revenues of £1,027 million for the quarter, equivalent to the same quarter a year previously. The company delivered “operating cash flow” of £427 million in the quarter. It now has net long-term debts of £8.9 billion, an increase of £2.8 billion, mainly as a result of its acquisition by Liberty Global, through which it gained some of its debt.
Liberty Global acquired Virgin Media in June for a combination of stock and $4.8 billion in cash. It now has 21.9 million video customers in 14 countries, mainly in Europe.
Mike Fries, the president and chief executive of Liberty Global described the acquisition of Virgin Media as the highlight of the quarter. “This transaction marks an important milestone in our efforts to consolidate what remains a very fragmented European cable market,” he said. “Virgin Media significantly enhances both the scale of our business and our levered equity growth strategy.”
Overall, Liberty Global reported consolidated revenues of $3.16 billion for the quarter, including the short period since the acquisition of Virgin Media.
Having installed Tom Mockridge, an experienced pay-television executive, as chief executive of Virgin Media, Liberty Global reported that the “synergies” or cost savings across the group are “significantly higher than our original estimates”.
Over the last year, Liberty has lost over 100,000 video customers across Europe, primarily in its German, Central and Eastern European, and Dutch operations.
Including Virgin Media in the United Kingdom, Liberty Global has nearly 12 million digital cable television subscribers in Europe, and a further 8 million analogue cable television customers, mainly in Germany where it has almost 4.5 million.
Liberty Global has invested heavily in its own Horizon TV platform, which now has over 270,000 subscribers in the Dutch and Swiss markets, with imminent rollouts in Ireland and Germany.
This begs the question whether Liberty Global will continue its dependency on TiVo in the United Kingdom, although with 1.7 million boxes deployed it is difficult to see them being swapped out for a long time.
Nevertheless, there are clearly economies of scale in considering a European cable footprint of nearly 12 million digital cable television homes, not to mention a total of 42 million homes passed by these networks.
In all, the group has over 20 million video customers in Europe, and a further 1.2 million in Chile and Puerto Rico, taking it to 21.9 million video homes, which is now slightly more than Comcast in the United States, with 21.8 million, down from 22.1 million a year previously.