Next-Gen Video Fuels Liberty Growth
Although it continues to shed buckets of basic video subscribers, Liberty Global is rapidly building up a strong base of next-generation video subscribers.
Liberty Global Inc. (Nasdaq: LBTY), by far the largest cable operator in Europe and one of the two largest MSOs in the world, reported Wednesday that it now has nearly 3 million advanced video subscribers. That total includes 2.3 million TiVo Inc. (Nasdaq: TIVO) subscribers in the UK and 645,000 Horizon TV subscribers in the Netherlands, Switzerland, Ireland and Germany. (See Eurobites: DT Down on Sprint's Withdrawal.)
In its second-quarter earnings report, Liberty Global said it picked up 240,000 customers for its cloud-based Horizon TV multiscreen video service, which is similar to the X1 service that Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) is rolling out in the US. With this increase and the TiVo additions in the UK, advanced video subs now account for 22% of the MSO's base of 13.4 million digital cable subs. Liberty Global also has 7.5 million analog cable subs, as well as about 800,000 satellite TV customers, giving it a total of 21.7 million video subs.
Besides netting these gains during the spring period, Liberty Global also launched its new Horizon Go TV Everywhere (TVE) app in its four initial Horizon markets and Poland, its fifth and latest Horizon market, in July. The TVE app allows customers with wireless video gateways to watch about 100 channels on their TV sets, PCs, laptops, tablets and smartphones. Subscribers can also choose from hundreds of on-demand TV shows and movies, use advanced search functions, record programs remotely and receive viewing reminders and recommendations. (See Liberty Global Opens Polish Horizons.}
Despite such upbeat developments, Liberty Global continued to shed video customers in the traditionally weak second quarter, losing another 72,000 video subs. But it was actually the MSO's lowest spring quarterly loss in eight years.
Otherwise, Liberty Global scored subscriber gains across the board, adding 239,000 revenue generating units (RGUs) through "organic growth" and another 29,000 RGUs through a small acquisition in Poland. Those gains included 185,000 new broadband subs, 125 new telephony subs and 111,000 new mobile subs.
— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading