Content has ‘limited’ strategic benefits, says Liberty Global’s Fries

Liberty Global boss Mike Fries has said big content investments are not part of the company’s forward-looking plan, admitting that its European content arm Chellomedia has “limited” strategic benefits.

Speaking at Cable Congress yesterday, Fries, who earlier this year oversaw Liberty Global’s pending takeover of UK operator Virgin Media, said that the firm had no plans to compete with sports rights, and that, in general, its future focus is in providing a compelling platform for content.

“I don’t see us competing with Sky for sports content. I don’t see us competing for football rights in an aggressive way across most of our markets,” said Fries.

Asked about Liberty Global’s broader content strategy, he said: “We own 55 channels today through a subsidiary called Chello. We are in the content business and those channels do very well. But in the long-run we have to be confident that linear, niche, thematic channels also have a future in this world we are talking about, and we’ll see.”

Fries added that “Chello is a great platform, it does really well on its own [but] its strategic benefits to us are somewhat limited,” claiming that while its content business is “good” it is “not part of our strategic plan to start investing massive amounts of capital in content providers.”

“Content will flow to the best platforms and content will flow to consumers through those platforms. As long as we are doing our job in giving consumers the access that they want, it’s going to bring them there, they’re going to have it.”