Friday 21 October 2016

Virgin Media loses 10pc of its Irish TV customer base in the last year

Published 16/02/2016 | 12:12

Carol Grennan, chief financial officer at Virgin Media
Carol Grennan, chief financial officer at Virgin Media

Virgin Media, formerly UPC Ireland, has lost 10pc of its Irish TV customer base in the last year with more losses on the way, according to its latest financial accounts.

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It's the sharpest fall in the operator's television subscriber base to date, with a loss of 38,000 TV customers leaving its total TV base at 365,500 (down from 403,500 a year ago).

The company is due to see a further 22,000 TV customers leave in April with the termination of its MMDS service due to spectrum reallocation. This will leave Virgin's television subscription base down over 20pc from where it was four years ago. In 2012, the company had 446,400 television subscribers but is down to 365,500 television subscribers today.

The sharp fall in its TV customer base means that Virgin now has more broadband customers than TV customers in Ireland for the first time in the company's history.

The company also disclosed that it has lost 22,000 Irish customers (4pc), overall, in the last 12 months and 41,000 customers (7pc) in the last four years.

However, the company has managed to eke out more business from existing customers in that time, with the overall number of services (which the company measures as ‘revenue generating units') taken up by its subscribers increasing by 10pc in the last four years.

The fall in Virgin's Irish television business comes at a time when aggressive competition in the sector has increased. The company's biggest competitor, Sky, has consolidated its television customer base at over 700,000 subscribers. Saorview, the free-to-air television service, has climbed to over 600,000 Irish TV sets. Eir's recently-introduced television service now has 45,000 customers, while Vodafone has just launched its own full-complement TV subscription service.

The financial accounts also show that Virgin's broadband growth has slowed considerably, rising 2pc on the same time last year to 371,200. It is the company’s slowest rate of broadband customer growth in Ireland since it introduced the service.

However it is doing better in the growth of its home phone service, which increased by 4pc to 358,100 in the last 12 months.

Virgin's broadband and television network is available in less than half of Irish homes and businesses and is concentrated in cities and urban areas.

The company's Irish chief executive, Tony Hanway, said that the company is to invest in an expansion of its network this year.

Virgin also disclosed that it has 7,600 Irish mobile phone customers since the launch of its virtual mobile service here.

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