Virgin Media managed to resolve its carriage disputes with ITV and UKTV, increasing the amount of its programming available on demand. The cable operator added 48,000 video customers in the second quarter, taking its total to 3.89 million in the United Kingdom.
Virgin Media added over 48,000 enhanced video customers in the second quarter of 2018. That compares to fewer than 5,000 net additions in the previous quarter and 34,000 in the second quarter the previous year.
That took its enhanced video subscriber base to 3.89 million in the United Kingdom, with a further 260,000 in the Republic of Ireland.
The United Kingdom contributed most of the net enhanced video additions for the continuing operations of Liberty Global, with a loss of nearly 9,000 in Switzerland balanced by small gains in Belgium and Poland.
There was a loss of 45,000 basic video subscribers across the European footprint, including a loss of nearly 27,000 in Switzerland.
Liberty Global has 7.77 million enhanced video subscribers across its continuing operations in Europe, out of a total of 9.45 million video subscribers, including almost 780,000 on satellite.
Next generation services, including TiVo, the Virgin TV V6 box, Horizon TV, Horizon-Lite and Yelo TV, collectively gained 158,000 subscribers in the second quarter, to reach a total of 6.70 million, or 77% of the cable video base.
Revenue in the United Kingdom and Ireland was up 10.9% to $1.73 billion for the quarter, representing almost 60% of the revenue from continuing operations.
Virgin Media has expanded the number of homes passed in the United Kingdom to 14.2 million.
Under its Project Lightning programme, Virgin Media has added a remarkable 1.3 million premises since the project launched. However, it has added only 128,000 video customers since the start of 2015, as reported by the informitv Multiscreen Index.
Video customers represent only 27% of homes passed, which is either comparatively poor or offer plenty of room for growth, depending on your level of optimism. Total customer relationships represent 38% of homes passed, but only 70% of them take video, while 94% take internet, where Virgin Media can offer a performance advantage.
The latest V6 box is now taken by 1.90 million subscribers, which is almost half of those in the United Kingdom.
Virgin Media appears to have resolved its relationship with UKTV. The UKTV portfolio of channels disappeared from the screens of its cable customers when the companies were unable to agree carriage terms.
The companies said they have reached a long-term agreement, which will bring an expanded selection of channels, including high definition versions, and five times as much on-demand programming, with a commitment to working closely to promote UKTV channels on the Virgin TV platform.
Virgin Media also reached a long-term commercial agreement with the commercial broadcaster ITV. That also promised access to increased programming and extended on-demand rights, including an agreement to work together to enable cloud-based recordings in the future, together with increased marketing and promotion for ITV, while maintaining the positions of both parties on retransmission fees.