Set-top boxes

Virgin Media Places Amazon Prime Order

Like many online shoppers, Virgin Media is counting on Amazon Prime to deliver something good pretty fast. But in the UK cable operator's case, that something good is not a new Kindle, electric toothbrush or egg cooker but new video subscribers and fresh revenue growth.

Virgin Media, the UK unit of Liberty Global, launched Amazon Prime Video as an integrated app on its next-gen V6 set-top box today, adding the popular streaming service to its roster of premium services. The move follows Virgin Media's earlier launches of integrated OTT video apps for Netflix and Starz, as well as smaller services like Hayu.

In a press release this morning, Virgin Media said the app has been automatically downloaded to all its Virgin TV V6 boxes. More than 60% of Virgin TV customers, or about 3.8 million UK households, now have a V6 box.

Virgin Media customers with the V6 box and Amazon Prime subscriptions will be able to watch and search for Prime Video content through the app, including Prime Videoís lineup of UHD TV shows. They will also be able to watch Premier League soccer matches through Sky Sports, BT Sport and Amazon.

Why this matters
Virgin Media's launch of Amazon Prime Video is significant for the cableco because it's a key part of the company's strategy to revive its slumping video business by halting, or at least reducing, its mounting pay-TV subscriber losses. Like other major pay-TV providers on both sides of the Atlantic, Virgin Media is trying to reposition itself as the ultimate video aggregator, featuring the full spectrum of video services no matter what their source may be.

At the same time, the Virgin Media app launch is significant for Amazon as it seeks to catch up to Netflix in the growing competition for global video dominance. While it got off to a much later start in the streaming video business than market leader Netflix, Amazon Prime Video is now available in more than 200 countries and regions around the world, similar to Netflix.

Also, like Netflix, Amazon has been concentrating lately on getting its streaming video app integrated into pay-TV set-tops and other video-capable devices already in customers' homes. In the US, for instance, Comcast, Cox and Verizon all feature Amazon Prime Video apps on their next-gen set-tops.

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— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading

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