Business Technology

Wednesday 1 October 2014

UPC loses TV customers but Liberty's sales soar

Published 07/08/2014 | 02:30

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Pictured at the launch of UPC Horizon TV were models Roz Purcell, Felicia Torica with UPC brand ambassador Craig Doyle
Pictured at the launch of UPC Horizon TV were models Roz Purcell, Felicia Torica with UPC brand ambassador Craig Doyle

Cable and broadband provider UPC lost 6,700 Irish customers over the last three months but sold an additional 7,600 internet, TV and phone packages here, new figures show.

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The company has not released figures on its Irish revenue or profitability. However, it said that it recorded rises in broadband and phone customer numbers but lost television subscribers during the period.

UPC now has 352,300 broadband subscribers in Ireland, up 4,000 on three months previously. It also has 324,500 phone customers, up 11,500 on the first quarter of the year.

However, it lost 7,900 television subscribers over the last three months, including 2,300 digital TV customers, 3,300 analogue TV customers and 2,300 MMDS users.

Broadband

Compared to the same period last year, UPC's broadband subscription rates have risen 10pc and its phone subscriptions have risen 22pc. Its digital TV customer base, which is separate to its other TV customer base, rose 0.3pc in the last 12 months.

The operator, which offers its services to just under half of Ireland's homes and businesses, is set to launch mobile phone services in 2015 having signed a deal with 3 Ireland to use its network.

UPC's parent company is Liberty Global, the international cable company controlled by billionaire John Malone.

It reported a second-quarter revenue increase of 51pc yesterday as more people subscribed to its services.

Sales rose to $4.6bn (€3.45bn) in the period, the London-based company said in a statement yesterday, matching the average estimate of analysts in a Bloomberg survey.

Liberty Global, which owns cable operators from Hungary to the UK as well as in Ireland, and is waiting for European regulators to clear its purchase of Ziggo in the Netherlands, has been expanding into TV production and programs to drive growth as the number of worthwhile cable assets for acquisition in Europe dwindles.

"We remain confident that we'll achieve or exceed all our public guidance targets for the full year," Liberty Global chief Mike Fries said in the statement.

In July, Liberty Global bought a stake in ITV, the UK's biggest commercial broadcaster with top-rated shows such as 'Downton Abbey'.

The 6.4pc investment was purchased from Rupert Murdoch's British Sky Broadcasting Group for £481m (€606m), with Liberty Global saying it doesn't plan to make a full takeover bid for now.

In May, Liberty Global teamed up with Discovery Communications to buy Permira Advisers's television producer All3Media, in a deal valuing that company at £550m (€694m).

Liberty Global has been waiting for European Union regulators to clear its €4.9bn purchase of Dutch broadband provider Ziggo after agreeing to buy the company in January. Malone wants to add Ziggo's 2.7 million cable customers in a combination with its UPC cable unit to take on Dutch carrier Royal KPN. Mr Fries said he's confident that the Ziggo deal will close in the second half.

During the second quarter, Liberty Global said it provided 48.9 million subscription services, up from 48.6 million at the end of March.

The net loss widened in the quarter to $249.9m f187m) from $11.6m (€8.7m) a year earlier.

(Additional reporting Bloomberg)

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