Virgin Media’s rising ARPU offsets drop in subs

UK cable operator Virgin Media lost 26,000 customers in the second quarter to June 30 but revenue remained flat due to subscribers paying more for services.

ARPU rose to a record £43.27 (€51) by the end of June, up from £41.68 a year earlier as a result of customers opting for higher broadband speeds and making more use of video-on-demand services. On the pay-TV front, the operator added 20,400 subscribers during the quarter, 10,000 less than in the previous quarter, giving it a total of 3.67 million TV revenue-generating units at the end of June. Virgin Media’s extensive VOD offering continued to perform well, with 1.9 million, or 55%, of its digital TV customers using the service. Customers made an average 32.1 VOD views each month, compared to 23.8 a year earlier. During the quarter, the operator attracted 56,600 V Plus DVR subscribers to reach a total of 668,500.

New broadband subscribers slowed considerably during the quarter with just 5,100 net additions compared to 47,300 the previous quarter and 54,600 a year earlier. It ended June with 3.98 million broadband RGUs. Virgin Media said this was due to a shift in focus towards growth in higher speed and higher ARPU customers, seasonally higher churn driven by students and lower growth in the overall broadband market.

The operator managed to increase the number of customers taking its 20Mbps and 50Mbps services by 37% to 454,000, up from 416,200 the previous quarter. At the end of June, 58.3% of the operator’s customers took a triple-play package, compared with 53.1% a year earlier.

Virgin Media managed to reduce losses by £400m in the 12 months to the end of June, posting a loss of £49m for the second quarter. Revenue was down £4m year-on-year to £935.8m.

The operator also confirmed it might make a secondary listing on the London Stock Exchange. “Such a listing would provide a further means for UK and European investors to trade the company’s shares on a well-established local platform and assist in raising the company’s corporate profile in the UK, where its business is conducted,” the company said.