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Liberty Global looks to Horizon to arrest video losses

Liberty Global CEO Mike Fries

Liberty Global CEO Mike Fries

Liberty Global hopes to reduce the high video losses it experienced in its first quarter as price increases bed in and new services gain customers, according to CEO Mike Fries, speaking to analysts after the cable giant released its first quarter financials

Fries said decisions about how far and fast to increase prices was “not a science”. He said that Liberty Global would “see what happens” as it implements a 10% price rise across its broadband base in Germany. In general, he said, Liberty Global could implement price increases of between 5% and 7% with “pretty good certainty” about the likely impact on churn. He said that after implementing price hikes in 12 of its 14 markets around the turn of the year and subsequently, it was “not completely unexpected” to see “some impact on churn and sales”.

Liberty Global lost 169,000 video subs in the first quarter, 98,000 more than it lost in the same period last year. The company attributed this to underperformance in Ziggo’s footprint and the loss of MDU contracts in Germany, as well as the impact in the prior year of the launch of new digital services in the Geneva region in Switzerland.

Fries said that Liberty’s rebrand of its services in the Netherlands using the Ziggo brand had been launched in April and he was hopeful that the extension of the Horizon advanced TV service to Ziggo’s footprint would make a difference and lead to an uptick in Liberty’s performance in the Netherlands.

Fries said that Liberty Global’s improved performance in April suggested that the first-quarter dip would “taper off”. He said that

Fries said that 18 million out of Liberty Global’s 23 million video customers were now able to receive either a version of Horizon or the TiVo service offered by Virgin Media in the UK. The mobile version of Horizon, Horizon Go, is currently available in nine countries, while an RDK-based variant of the big screen version is available in Poland and the Czech Republic.