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Virgin Media Adds Customers

UK cable TV subscriptions grew by fastest rate in 10 years

May 9, 2017

After a rocky 2016 that saw UK subscribers hit with several price hikes, Virgin Media tallied net gains across its core services—cable TV, fixed broadband and landline telephony—in the UK and Ireland during 2017’s first quarter.

All told, Virgin’s UK and Ireland business pulled in a net addition of 65,000 customers in the three months ending March 31, up 36% vs. the first quarter of 2016.

Net additions on a revenue generation unit (RGU) basis—a figure that includes not only new subscribers but uptake of additional services by existing customers—increased by 70% from a year earlier, growing by 158,000 units.

New subscriber gains were driven by promotions surrounding bundle packages and efforts trumpeting Vigin’s “speed leadership” when it comes to download rates, the launch of a 4K set-top box, and a push to expand the availability of “superfast” fiber broadband to areas in the UK where Virgin previously didn’t offer it. That last effort, a program called Project Lightning, represented over a third of customer net additions during the quarter, according to the company.

Virgin’s core cable TV service returned to growth with 39,000 RGU net additions in Q1, rebounding from an 18,000 net loss in Q1 2016. The result included the company’s highest quarterly TV subscriber gain in the UK since Q4 2007, according to a Virgin Media press release.

The company’s broadband internet service added 82,000 net additions in the UK and Ireland in Q1.

In total, Virgin Media provided a mix of broadband, video and fixed-line telephony services to approximately 5.8 million fixed-line customers in the UK and Ireland as of March 31, 2017, with 5.35 million of those in the UK.

Virgin still trails UK and Ireland leader Sky by a significant margin when it comes to total subscribers. Figures released by Sky last month show it had 12.7 million customers in the two countries as of March 31, 2017, a tally that included 40,000 new customers added during the quarter.

—Cliff Annicelli

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