Vodafone sees TV losses in Germany as competition bites

Vodafone saw its TV base in Germany continue to decline sharply and was hit by continued strong competition in Spain in a fiscal first quarter that otherwise exceeded low market expectations.

Vodafone Deutschland lost 75,000 TV customers in the quarter, part of an ongoing trend for the last three quarters. The company said the losses reflected lower gross additions due to lower retail activity during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The company said that moves to improve the service including the launch of DAZN’s pay TV channel and the debut of Vodafone’s new Apple TV set-top box product, along with the earlier launch of Vodafone TV on the former Unitymedia footprint, had yet to make their impact felt, with the full benefit of these initiatives “not visible in our commercial results due to lockdown restrictions”.

On the plus side, Vodafone Deutschland increased its converged customer base, with 29,000 additions taking the latter to 1.7 million. Mobile service revenue also increased. Despite the TV losses, Vodafone was able to report a net increase in cable customers of 33,000.

In Spain, Vodafone’s other big cable market, revenue grew marginally, fuelled by mobile, in what remains a highly competitive market, “particularly in the value segment”. Vodafone plans to up the prices of its main Vodafone brand products on July 15, which could lead to further pressure on its base.

Overall, Vodafone’s European TV customer base increased slightly year-on-year, rising from 22.2 to 23.3 million. It also saw modest growth in its broadband and contract mobile bases.

Analysts at Jefferies said that Vodafone’s numbers benefited from “easy 1Q competition” with the COVID-19-hit prior year numbers.

Jefferies also noted that Vodafone faces stiff competition both in Germany, where it said Vodafone was being “out-competed” by Deutsche Telekom, and Spain, where Romania-based Digi, described as “a credible number five competitor”, is currently disrupting the market.

Overall, Vodafone’s service revenue grew by 1.4% to €3.212 billion.

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