Virgin Media lost television subscribers in the United Kingdom for the fifth consecutive quarter, ending 2019 with 3.69 million. That was the fewest it has had in 10 years. Parent company Liberty Global has divested many of its other European operations to Vodafone. The group now has just 7.47 million enhanced video subscribers across Europe. Meanwhile, Vodafone has grown to 18.17 million television customers in Europe.
Virgin Media lost 77,600 television subscribers in the United Kingdom in the last quarter of 2019 and 184,000 over the course of the year. It added only 1,900 internet subscribers in the last quarter, taking its total to 5.27 million, compared to 5.22 million at the end of the previous year.
In the United Kingdom and Ireland, Virgin Media lost 9,000 customer relationships in the fourth quarter, as growth from new build areas through its Project Lightning fibre rollout was offset by attrition elsewhere.
In 2019, Liberty Global, the parent company sold operations in Germany, Hungary, Romania, and the Czech Republic to Vodafone for over $21 billion.
Liberty Global is left with continuing operations in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Belgium, Poland, Switzerland, and Slovakia.
There is also a joint venture in the Netherlands with VodafoneZiggo. There it ended 2019 with 3.38 million enhanced video subscribers, which is 6,200 fewer than a year previously.
In the United Kingdom, Virgin Media has announced a deal with Vodafone to offer a mobile virtual network, allowing it to offer 5G services. Liberty says it is exploring “strategic options for value creation”, presumably leaving the door open for Vodafone but possibly also for Sky, now owned by Comcast, the largest cable service provider in the United States.
Liberty Global still has $28.3 billion in debt for continuing operations but was left with $8.1 billion in cash at the end of 2019 and available borrowing of a further $3 billion.
Vodafone now claims 18.17 million television subscribers in Europe, including 13.64 million in Germany, as well as the joint venture in VodafoneZiggo. Vodafone is now the fifth largest operator group in the informitv Multiscreen Index.