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Liberty Global grows advanced TV base, plans more 4K rollouts

Liberty Global CEO, Mike Fries

Liberty Global CEO, Mike Fries

Liberty Global added 313,000 next-generation TV customers in Q4 and said it plans to expand the deployment of its new 4K cloud-based set-top box.

Announcing its fourth quarter and full-year 2016 results, Liberty said that overall it added 1.2 million subscribers last year to its next-gen TV services – which include Horizon and Horizon-Lite in mainland Europe, TiVo in the UK and Yelo in Belgium

“We ended the year with 6.7 million next-generation subscribers, representing 38% of our total video base, excluding DTH, in Europe,” said the company in its earnings announcement.

“We will also expand the deployment of exciting new products like our 4K cloud-based set-top and our WiFi Connect Box,” said Liberty Global CEO Mike Fries.

Liberty-owned Virgin Media launched its new 4K-enabled V6 set-top box in the UK in the fourth quarter as part of its new ‘home entertainment experience’.

Looking ahead, Fries said that the company plans to continue to enrich its bundled offerings with “compelling 4G mobile offers” and new content and functionality – “including the launch of Netflix across our footprint”.

Liberty started to make Netflix available on its set-top boxes –starting in the Netherlands in December – after agreeing a multi-year partnership with the SVOD giant that covers 30 countries around the world.

The company also completed the rollout of its Horizon TV offering across its European operations during the quarter, with the launch of Horizon TV in Austria and Horizon-Lite in Romania.

In late 2017, Fries said that Liberty Global will start field trials of DOCSIS 3.1 technology, which will provide “gigabit speeds” to its customers.

The company already claims to have delivered more than 1.4 million new gigabit-ready homes in 2016, including nearly half a million at Virgin Media alone, as part of its network expansion efforts.

Overall, in Europe, Liberty Global said last year it added 946,000 new revenue generating units (RGUs) – covering basic and enhanced video subscribers, DTH, internet or telephony subscribers.

This marked a 24% year-on-year rise, which Liberty attributed to lower video churn and higher broadband gains, fuelled by 304,000 UK additions and turnaround in the Netherlands.

“This improved performance can be credited to the wide range of innovative new products that we’ve launched, including our superior and ever-increasing broadband speeds, and our aggressive network expansion program,” said Fries.

Liberty Global reported total Q4 revenues of US$4.22 billion, down 1.7% year-on-year, but up 2.2% on a rebased basis. Group operating income for the quarter came to US$824.2 million, up 32.7% year-on-year.